Civil rights activist Al Sharpton on Thursday took Sen. Joe Biden to task for calling Democratic rival Sen. Barack Obama “articulate” and “clean,” questioning how the description reflects on other blacks.
Biden told Sharpton he regretted the comments and said he hadn’t meant to disparage other blacks who had run for president in the past, including Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and the late New York Rep. Shirley Chisholm, who sought the Democratic presidential nomination in 1972.
But Sharpton told Biden: “A lot of people took it from you that because (Obama) is Harvard-trained, that people don’t see someone as good and clean unless they are less connected to the struggle of the African-American community.”
Biden responded by lavishing praise on Sharpton, saying he and Jackson were the most articulate people in the country.
“I have overwhelming respect for what you did. I have an overwhelming respect for what Jesse did, and what Shirley Chisholm did,” Biden told Sharpton. “I didn’t know anyone tougher or straighter than Shirley Chisholm. I worked with her, I knew her.”
The two men agreed that the best way for Biden to make up for his remarks was to stress issues of concern to the black community in his campaign, such as poverty eradication and speeding up the rebuilding of storm-ravaged New Orleans.