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African Americans Support Biden Over Other Democratic Candidates


There are 11 candidates to choose from in the Democratic contest. Joining us now on the line - Congressman Cedric Richmond of Louisiana. He's the co-chair of Vice President Joe Biden's campaign and also the most recent chair of the Congressional Black Caucus. Congressman, thank you so much for taking the time this morning.

CEDRIC RICHMOND: Oh, good morning. Thanks for having me.

MARTIN: So the vice president has positioned himself as the candidate best suited to bring stability after the chaos of the last 3 1/2 years. We've talked to voters, young voters in particular, who are reluctant about him. I want to play a bit of tape for you from Dan Bush (ph). We met him in Davenport, Iowa. He's in his 30s, and he owns a restaurant there. Let's take a listen, and we'll talk about it on the other side.

Joe Biden?

DAN BUSH: I'd prefer not to, but sure.

MARTIN: Why? Why prefer not to?

BUSH: Personally, I think he would lose to Trump handily. I think it would all become about his son in the same way that the Hillary emails thing became a thing. When you have something for Trump to latch onto, he latches on; he doesn't let go.

MARTIN: So he's referring there to the Ukraine scandal and the impeachment hearings. What do you tell those voters?

RICHMOND: Well, one, I tell everybody that it's been debunked by the media, by the intelligence community and everyone who's looked at it to say that there's absolutely nothing there. But when you talk about electability, a lot of people look at the national polling, which Joe Biden is beating Trump more than any other candidate. But I'd even say go further. Go look at Michigan; go look at Pennsylvania; go look at Wisconsin - those states that you have to win in order to beat Donald Trump. Hillary Clinton beat him by 3 million votes, but she lost the election.

So we just can't make the mistakes we made last time; we have to nominate somebody who can compete in those states but, more importantly, someone who has experience that on Day 1 can start to unify this country, rebuild the middle class, get respect on the world stage. We have a lot of work to do, and there's a lot at stake in this election. And I would just remind people, really, about what's at stake.

MARTIN: So Joe Biden has the most support from African American voters than any other Democrat in this race, even though there have been several black candidates in the race, including two senators - Kamala Harris, Cory Booker. Can you explain what black voters see in him?

RICHMOND: Well, I think it's his body of work and the fact that they see in him exactly what President Obama saw in him when he decided to canvass the entire Senate - many of senators who are in the race now were there - and he decided to offer the vice presidency to Joe Biden because of his body of work, from his involvement in the civil rights movement, the fact that he left a law firm...


RICHMOND: ...To join the public defender's office, the fact that he is steady, and he is consistent...

MARTIN: Right.

RICHMOND: ...In who he is, who he says he is.

MARTIN: I'm sorry to interrupt you. So you say it's his long experience, his affiliation with Barack Obama. If he loses Iowa, how does that affect his path to the nomination?

RICHMOND: I don't think it affects his path. He still has to go to New Hampshire. He still has to go to Nevada and South Carolina, where we're - we expect to win both of those. And delegate count, we're still in good shape.

MARTIN: Representative Cedric Richmond of Louisiana, co-chair of Vice President Joe Biden's presidential campaign. We appreciate your time. Thank you so much.

RICHMOND: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.