Joe Biden called Cory Booker about segregationist senators controversy after CNN interview

Posted at 6:30 PM, Jun 20, 2019

Former Vice President Joe Biden called Sen. Cory Booker on Wednesday night, Booker's campaign confirmed Thursday, after the New Jersey Democrat called Biden's recent comments about working with segregationist senators "so insulting" in an interview with CNN.

The call came following a tense day in which Booker called on Biden -- his front-running rival for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination -- to apologize for touting his relationship decades ago with racist senators. No apologies were exchanged during the conversation, according to two sources familiar with the exchange.

Before the call, Booker had taken issue, in part, with Biden telling donors at a fundraising event Tuesday in New York: "I was in a caucus with James O. Eastland. He never called me 'boy,' he always called me 'son.' "

Biden, in turn, said Booker was the one who should apologize , telling CNN outside a fundraiser Wednesday evening in Rockville, Maryland: "He knows better. There's not a racist bone in my body. I've been involved in civil rights my whole career."

In the phone call, Booker "shared directly what he said publicly," said Booker campaign press secretary Sabrina Singh, "including helping Vice President Biden understand why the word 'boy' is painful to so many."

"Cory believes that Vice President Biden should take responsibility for what he said and apologize to those who were hurt," Singh added.

The Biden campaign has not yet issued a statement on the call.

Booker on Wednesday appeared on "CNN Tonight," telling host Don Lemon that he would not back down from his criticism of the vice president.

"I was raised to speak truth to power," Booker said in the interview. "And I will never apologize for doing that and Vice President Biden shouldn't need this lesson."