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Ross: Democrats can’t afford to ignore Joe Biden’s problematic past

Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden during Thursday's Democratic debate. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Last night, Joe Biden was confronted with quote from a 1975 interview.

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“You told a reporter, ‘I don’t feel responsible for the sins of my father and grandfather… and I’ll be damned if I feel responsible to pay for what happened 300 years ago,'” the moderator noted.

None of the other candidates wanted to touch that quote. But the fact is back in 1975, Biden was a conservative on the issue of reparations and court ordered busing.

“That we are going to integrate people so that they all have the same access and they all learn to grow up with one another is a rejection of the whole movement of black pride,” Biden said in a 1975 interview with NPR.

And he agonized about his position, worried that he might be wrong.

“Calling my staff together and the blacks in my staff together saying now look this is what I think, do you think I am?” he continued in that interview.

He concluded he wasn’t wrong, even if he risked being compared to avowed racist and former Alabama Governor George Wallace, who felt the same way.

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“It has been an issue that has been in the hands of the racists, and we liberals have out of hand have rejected it, because if George Wallace is for it, it must be bad,” he said at the time.

I think it shows considerable courage that he would risk being compared to George Wallace to do what he thought was right for minorities. But I’m not sure today’s Democratic Party can bring itself to ignore this episode the way the candidates did last night.

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