Biden Stumbles in Interview

Shailagh Murray, Washington Post, October 25, 2007

In an interview with The Washington Post’s editorial board, Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.) asserted that he is more prepared to be president than any other candidate, disputed the notion that governors are better suited for the White House than senators and warned that Pakistan is a potentially bigger threat than Iran.

Biden also stumbled through a discourse on race and education, leaving the impression that he believes one reason that so many District of Columbia schools fail is the city’s high minority population. His campaign quickly issued a statement saying he meant to indicate that the disadvantages were based on economic status, not race.

After a lengthy critique of Bush administration education policies, Biden attempted to explain why some schools perform better than others—in Iowa, for instance, compared with the District. “There’s less than 1 percent of the population of Iowa that is African American. There is probably less than 4 or 5 percent that are minorities. What is in Washington? So look, it goes back to what you start off with, what you’re dealing with,” Biden said. He went on to discuss the importance of parental involvement in reading to children and how “half this education gap exists before the kid steps foot in the classroom.”

The Biden campaign moved quickly to clarify the senator’s remarks in a statement: “This was not a race-based distinction, but a discussion of the problems kids face who don’t have the same socio-economic support system (and all that implies—nutrition, pre K, etc.) entering grade school and the impact of those disadvantages on outcomes.”

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