In a leaked call released Thursday, former Vice President Joe Biden warned civil rights leaders that it was the ‘defund the police’ push that granted Republicans victories in many down-ballot races on Nov. 3.
“That’s how they beat the living hell out of us across the country, saying that we’re talking about defunding the police,” Biden said.
Biden’s panic is similar to some Democratic leaders in the House of Representatives, who cautioned colleagues on a call in early November that promoting and campaigning on a far-left social agenda hurt them badly in 2020.
“[If] we are going to run on Medicare for All, defund the police, socialized medicine, we’re not going to win,” House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, a Democrat from South Carolina said.
During that same call, Rep. Abigail Spanberger of Virginia echoed Clyburn’s concerns, saying that if leftists couldn’t reevaluate the platforms they relied on for the Nov. 3 election, they would lose in a landslide in the 2022 midterms.
“No one should say ‘defund the police’ ever again,” Spanberger said. “Nobody should be talking about socialism.”
While Biden attempted to reassure others on the call including Rev. Al Sharpton, the NAACP’s Derrick Johnson, and former congressman Cedric Richmond, that keeping police officers accountable is still a priority, the former vice president also expressed worry that the ‘defund the police’ image would affect Senate runoff races in Georgia in January and whether Republicans keep control of the upper chamber.
“I also don’t think we should get too far ahead of ourselves on dealing with police reform in that, because they’ve already labeled us as being ‘defund the police,’ anything we put forward in terms of the organizational structure to change policing — which I promise you, will occur. Promise you,” Biden said.
In addition to his view that “defund the police” contradicts the unity platform he continues to preach, Biden also pushed back on the leaders’ calls to fix the police “problem” with executive actions and orders.
“I am not going to violate the Constitution. Executive authority that my progressive friends talk about is way beyond the bounds,” he said.
Moments later, however, Biden promised to use presidential authority to undo President Donald Trump’s orders and actions.
“Our only hope and the way to deal with it is, where I have executive authority, I will use it to undo every single damn thing this guy has done by executive authority, but I’m not going to exercise executive authority where it’s a question, where I can come along and say, ‘I can do away with assault weapons,’” he said. “There’s no executive authority to do away that. And no one has fought harder to get rid of assault weapons than me, me, but you can’t do it by executive order.”