As he tries to resuscitate a campaign that faltered in the first two states to vote in the Democratic primary, Biden has turned his attention to Bloomberg — who is surging with African American voters who make up the former vice president’s base of support — in the most direct way yet.
“I’m going to get a chance to debate him on everything from redlining to stop and frisk to a whole range of other things,” Biden said on ABC’s “The View.”
Asked what he thought about audio that became public this week of Bloomberg defending stop-and-frisk policing, Biden paused and laughed.
“I’m laughing because it’s amazing how every single thing I’ve said for the last 40 years has come up and I’ve answered them all. We’re just now getting into the place where we’re looking at other people’s records,” he said.
Biden’s comments come at the end of a week in which reports about Bloomberg’s previous comments and positions on housing and policing policies have come under scrutiny.
Bloomberg said at the height of the housing crisis, at a Georgetown University forum in 2008, that getting rid of “redlining,” the discriminatory housing practice that stopped banks from providing mortgages in low-income, largely minority neighborhoods, was to blame for the collapse.
His campaign said Thursday that the comments were meant to make the point that “something bad — the financial crisis — followed something good, which is the fight against redlining.”
And in 2015, Bloomberg touted stop-and-frisk policing policies as a way to reduce violence by throwing minority kids “up against the walls and frisk them.” Bloomberg, in the audio, also claims that “95%” of “murders and murderers and murder victims” are male minorities between the ages of 16 to 25.
Bloomberg responded to his previous comments on Wednesday, telling reporters in Tennessee that “it’s just not the way that I think.”
The first potential clash between Biden and Bloomberg could come at Wednesday’s Democratic presidential debate in Nevada, though Bloomberg has not yet qualified for the debate.
After finishing fourth in the Iowa caucuses and fifth in the New Hampshire primary, Biden is attempting to hold onto his base of African American support — which is crucial in the South Carolina primary and key to his ability to rack up delegates when 14 states vote on Super Tuesday on March 3.
Recent national polls have shown Biden’s support among black voters sinking and Bloomberg’s rising. A Quinnipiac University poll this week found Biden’s support among black voters had dropped from 49% before the Iowa caucuses to 27% just before the New Hampshire primary. Bloomberg, meanwhile, was up to 22% support among African Americans nationally, while Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders was third with 19% support.
On Wednesday, Biden senior adviser Symone Sanders called Bloomberg “unvetted” in a briefing with reporters, saying she was “extremely disturbed” and “very concerned” by the audio of Bloomberg touting stop-and-frisk policing.
Louisiana Rep. Cedric Richmond, Biden’s campaign co-chairman, called Bloomberg “a billionaire who all of a sudden is a Democrat.”