Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and former Vice President Joe Biden spoke privately after the two publically called for the other to apologize due to comments surrounding Biden’s relationship with former senators who supported segregation.
In an interview with MSNBC Thursday night, the New Jersey senator said he had a 15 to 20 minute “good, constructive conversation” with Biden the night before over the phone.
“Look, at the end of the day, this is not about me, it’s not about him, it’s about where our country is,” Booker said on the issue. “We have real race issues in our country, and we need leaders, plural, presidential candidates or not, that can bring folks together, can deepen understanding and empathy, and can get us to a point where we can begin to work on a lot of the issues that have deep, scarred legacies in our country.”
Booker assured that he respects Biden and has “love and gratitude” for him. As for the contentious back-and-forth about who should apologize, Booker stood his ground.
“I don’t feel like I want an apology to me,” he said, explaining that the issue isn’t with what Biden said to Booker, but the more significant impact his statements made:
“I understood where his intentions were. I understand where his heart was. The fact is though, it’s not about me or him. He said things that are hurtful and are harmful. I believe he should be apologizing to the American people and having this discussion with all of us. And that there is actually an opportunity here now, for someone who is a former vice president and is someone who is seeking to be the leader of the party and the nation, for him to speak to these issues. I waited for almost a day for him to do that, and he did not do that. That’s why I felt the need to speak out.”
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Overall, Booker said he “absolutely” felt better about his interactions with Biden. The two presidential candidates will not get a chance to meet during the first round of Democratic debates next week, as they will appear on separate nights.