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Cory Booker reports ‘constructive conversation’ with Joe Biden

Sen. Cory A. Booker on Thursday said he and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden had a “constructive conversation” the previous day, after Mr. Booker had criticized his rival Democratic presidential candidate for language he used when he talked up his past work with segregationist senators.

“I said my piece yesterday,” Mr. Booker said Thursday evening on MSNBC. “He said I should know better, and I feel very strongly what I know is that Joe Biden should not need to be explained to about why that word is so hurtful.”

Mr. Biden, affecting a Southern drawl at a fundraiser earlier this week, said the late Sen. James Eastland “never called me boy, he always called me son” and talked up his experience with Eastland and the late Sen. Herman Talmadge as an example of past civility in politics and working with people who hold views you might oppose.

Mr. Booker and others have taken issue with Mr. Biden’s casual use of the word “boy,” saying people need to be more mindful of the negative connotations it holds for African-Americans.

“I am glad we had a good constructive conversation last night,” Mr. Booker said, estimating that they talked for about 15-20 minutes.

Asked whether either of them offered the other an apology, Mr. Booker said he didn’t want to characterize a private conversation.

“I think that Joe Biden should explain to people because it’s not about me,” he said. “I don’t feel like I want an apology to me. I think that this is something that he should speak to the public about, and I think he has an opportunity here.”

He said he explained to him more about the nature of African-American men being called “boy.”

“Why racist senators like those would look at him and call him ‘son’ as seeing themselves in him,” he said. “And see in a black man, call them boy because they don’t see themselves but they see someone that they are dehumanizing or degrading. And so having conversations like that — that’s the kind of dialogue I think is a constructive thing.”

Asked if he could run on a presidential ticket with Mr. Biden, Mr. Booker said he didn’t think there should be two men on a ticket.

“I think given the field we have, extraordinary people, we should have tickets that have racial and gender diversity,” he said. “We are a party that should talk to who we are as a nation.”

“I’m going to say this with as much gravity as I can communicate: whoever comes out of that nomination process as our nominee, everybody — everybody — should join ranks and support them,” he said.

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