October 25th, 2007
11:00 AM ET
10 years ago

Biden 'stumbles' over education question

Sen. Joe Biden.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - In what the Washington Post is describing as a "stumble," Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden said in an interview with the paper Wednesday that Washington's high minority population is one of the reasons for the city's education problems.

Explaining why schools in Iowa are performing better than those in Washington, D.C., Biden told the Post, "There's less than one percent of the population of Iowa that is African American. There is probably less than four of five percent that are minorities. What is in Washington? So look, it goes back to what you start off with, what you're dealing with."

"When you have children coming from dysfunctional homes, when you have children coming from homes where there's no books, where the mother from the time they're born doesn't talk to them - as opposed to the mother in Iowa who's sitting out there and talks to them, the kid starts out with a 300 word larger vocabulary at age three. Half this education gap exists before the kid steps foot in the classroom," the Delaware Democrat added.

The paper reports Biden's campaign quickly sought to clarify the remarks, saying in a statement that the senator was not making a "race-based distinction" but rather a "socio-economic" one.

This isn't the first time Biden's words have caused controversy. Last February, on the same day he officially announced his presidential bid, a newspaper quoted the senator describing Sen. Barack Obama as "the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy."

And, in a June 2006 appearance in New Hampshire, Biden commented on the growth of the Indian-American population in Delaware by saying, "You cannot go into a 7-11 or a Dunkin' Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent. Oh, I'm not joking."

- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney

Filed under: Iowa • Joe Biden
soundoff (133 Responses)
  1. a.i. marvin houston, texas

    If Black kids get bad SAT scores it makes Joe Biden a racist. Well, I guess if Katrina was George Bush's fault then Joe Biden must be a racist as minorities do receive lower receive lower standardized test scores.

    October 25, 2007 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  2. C.Gonzales, Las Vegas, NV

    So now let's compare what Biden said with what Dr. James Watson said. Should we pressure Biden to retire, or do we enroll Watson to make his own presidential run?!? 🙂

    October 25, 2007 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  3. Judy, San Antonio, Tx

    The obvious facts speak for themselves, as stated by Biden. Other Posters have already pointed out how Biden, as a Dem, gets a total pass from the LSM for this and other comments he has made, such as the one regarding East Indians, etc.
    The same reality applies to the Dumbing Down of many US schools all over the country which are forced to accommodate the expenses, the culture & the language of the invading Illegal Aliens. Then the Illegals are actually discouraged from assimilating, etc by "Progressives".
    I suppose that if the controversial Dr Watson were a Democrat, or one of their major contributors..He would still have the job he was forced to retire from, inspite of his historically backed (racist) statement.

    October 25, 2007 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  4. Kay, Las Vegas, NV

    las vegas nv:
    I think you're helping to prove Biden's point...
    Please tell me you're not a product of the illustrious Clark County School District because I have two kids still in it and, if so, I need to pull them out immediately!
    BTW, your spelling lesson for the day should include the word 'every'...

    October 26, 2007 12:42 am at 12:42 am |
  5. David, San Diego, California

    Mr. Biden is only telling it like it is. I once lived in Delaware and his statement is very true.

    It's just the facts. Why deny the truth? What are you all afraid of?

    October 26, 2007 01:31 am at 1:31 am |
  6. Liberal Chic

    I agree with someone who said it's just that a lot of minorities are poor that they don't do well academically. Being poor makes life so stressful, I cannot imagine raising children well without very exceptional parental skills in such an envirnment.

    My husband and I do well financially, but trying to raise ONE single toddler with utmost care takes all my time and energy. If I had to scrimp for the rent, struggle to pay unexpected medical bills, put off car repairs, scrounge around for a last minute baby sitter because my wage job offers no personal days, walk laundry five blocks while juggling an infant, I can't imagine that I would have the wherewithal to give the requisite care and attention to a little person(s) who can be very aggravating and trying at times.

    Let's all work to get everone out of poverty (and that doesn't necessarily mean more money into the current system) so that we never have to discuss whether race is a factor in intelligence.

    October 26, 2007 01:36 am at 1:36 am |
  7. Liberal Chic

    I must say there are some good and interesting comments here.

    October 26, 2007 01:40 am at 1:40 am |
  8. DR

    For the record, Joe Crow, my mother TALKED to all of us every day and all of us were FORCED to learn our ABC’s and how to count at THREE YEARS OLD. We were reading and writing before Kindergarten which is why half of the crap we were taught was boring in the first place. This is it. I give up on this man. I'm done forgiving him and feeling sorry for him. I refuse to keep offering excuses for his stupid comments. I no longer believe he is this ignorant about Black people. I'm done. I'm through.

    October 26, 2007 02:11 am at 2:11 am |
  9. Shawn, Charleston, SC

    I honestly believe that he put the truth out there. I am not for Democrats or Republicans due to their mixed differences but he makes a great point. The truth needs to come to light, otherwise, we will become a more dumb founded nation which will lose in the end. The racial card needs to be shut down because it is not allowing us as a society to progress toward a better future. James Watson had a good point to saying scientific results of African people had a lower class intelligent level and that it doesn't matter what environment or geographic location, it follows. Take care everyone and praise the first democrat in this day in age to make a good point!

    October 26, 2007 02:42 am at 2:42 am |
  10. CR Akron, Oh

    Unfortunately, this statement is the truth. Because the mother, works with the kids, even though she may work outside the home, it has an impact. If the father is absent, what is the message? Have you ever looked at the stats on crime, literacy, (even with the dumbed down testing methods) and other real life indicators of the differences between blacks and whites. Blacks are supposed to become sports people, rappers or drug dealers, that is all we are shown as successful by peers and parents. If a teacher or any "outsider" tells us different, or tries to show what a black can aspire to become, they are called Toms or told they are not black enough. The few that do rise above their brethern have a few things in common, maybe we should focus on these and try to promote them.

    October 26, 2007 07:59 am at 7:59 am |
  11. reggin mpls mn

    What this vain {nice plugs putz} arrogant clown said is 100% correct. He`s lucky that he lives on the democrat plantation. Being a liberal means never having to say your sorry.

    October 26, 2007 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  12. Jack, Deerfield, IL

    kudos to Biden. He finally got something right! My two brothers a Social Workers and believe me, Biden knows what he's talking about. My wife attempts to teach children from these dysfunctional families and as hard as she tries, it's pretty much a waste of time. On a Parent/Teachers day, the school is lucky to have three parents (out of 400) show up.

    October 26, 2007 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  13. Anonymous

    Who care?

    October 26, 2007 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  14. Daniel

    Why do the real perpetrators of racism (Jackson, Sharpton, and Obama supporters) get away with trying to sabotage good people?

    I blame all race-related problems on Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson because they are responsible for injecting racism into every instance where a truthful comment isn't what black people may not want to hear.

    Everyone–and I mean everyone–please stop pretending to be so easily offended by truthful or false comments made by politicians or the media. Fake outrage is ruining this country and there are too many hate mongers and babies like Sean Hannity and Al Sharpton who demand apologies for ridiculous reasons. Stop it.

    Get thicker skin. And you're gonna need it if you want to survive this pretend war on terrorism. That and Iraq should offend you more than Biden's comments. Get real, people.

    October 26, 2007 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  15. Philbert

    Oops, he broke #1 PC rule, he spoke the truth!

    October 26, 2007 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  16. EdW, Washington, D.C.

    Perhaps Dr. Watson was right? Whenever you bring up the subjet of black Americans in many sports their dominence is credited to their athletic ability. If this is really true why can't their performance in school be credited to their intellectual ability. Until we have rational and wide ranging open discussions on this discrimination will always be a problem.

    October 26, 2007 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  17. James, San Luis Obispo, CA

    Let's not talk about slavery as a reason for socio-economic desparity. many cultures have faced oppression and racism as have risen above it (Chinese, Japanese, or Jewish). These three cultures place high value on education, cafeful spending and saving, and cultural advancement. African American culture has brought us many great things – but it has also brought up an generation of "thugs" who seek to glamorize the street lifestyle and drug dealing.

    Now it is fair to agrgue that white kids are the biggest consumers of rap music and gang related merchandise – but ultimately we see what happens when these rap "artists" are given power, money and influence – they use it to degrade the rest of society even further.

    October 26, 2007 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  18. Tony Detroit, MI

    Can the truth be racist? I have been involved with Detroit schools for 30 years. The Senator's comments are reflected in my experience.

    As Bill Cosby has recently stated;

    "In our cities and public schools we have 50% drop out. In our own neighborhood, we have men in prison. No longer is a person embarrassed because they’re pregnant without a husband. No longer is a boy considered an embarrassment if he tries to run away from being the father of the unmarried child."

    October 26, 2007 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  19. Fred, New York

    It's about time Politicians, Scientists, Nobel Prize Winners, etc. are speakin the truth about racial issues. People are getting tired of holding back, because it might offend some minority.

    October 26, 2007 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  20. JackP, Athens, GA

    I notice how you liberal weenies are quick to criticize someone when they speak the truth. You just love it when someone makes an outrageous comment that is filled with untruths. Wake up will you and smell the coffee.

    October 26, 2007 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  21. Bob, New york, NY

    Hell, he is right, there are more fight at school with more latinos and blacks in the mix. LOl that is where u find the Indians. I'm not racist, but what Biden says is partially true.

    October 26, 2007 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  22. James, NY

    Don't let this get you down, Joe. The radical race-card-players on the left will soon move on and continue down their path of destruction and try to ruin someone else's life. Stay strong, weather the storm. Keep telling the truth.


    October 26, 2007 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  23. Abe

    To Salita – or whoever

    Your post is misleading. Blacks ARE more likely to commit rape. You obvioulsly don't know how to look at statistics. Whites make up 75% of the USA and blacks make up only about 12- 13%, which logically makes "crime-age" black males about 6% (or even less). To have ONLY 6% of the population committing 32.5% of all forcible rapes in the country means that, yes, they are more likely to rape. It is a matter of PROPORTIONALITY!

    October 26, 2007 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  24. Realist!, Miami FL

    I hate Joe, but I have to agree with him. Areas that have higher minority levels, have bad schools.


    October 26, 2007 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  25. David, Houston, TX

    "When you have children coming from dysfunctional homes, when you have children coming from homes where there's no books, where the mother from the time they're born doesn't talk to them ..."

    Actually, this is dead on accurate. There are too many irresponsible parents who simply don't care about their children's welfare. And no amount of government social programs is ever going to be able to counteract that.

    October 26, 2007 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
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