Biden visited the United Performance Metals facility in Hamilton and was accompanied by both Ohio senators, Democrat Sherrod Brown and outgoing Republican Rob Portman.
“You know, things have kind of changed since I first got there… I got elected there when I was 29 years old to the United States Senate from a very modest background. And I was there for 36 years before becoming vice president,” Biden said Friday. “We always used to fight like hell even back in the old days when we had real segregationists like Eastland and Thurmond, all those guys, but we ended up eating lunch together. Things have changed. We got to bring it back.”
The president told Portman he was “sorry” that the lawmaker was leaving the Senate because he’s “one of the good guys” because of the way he treats his peers.
Critics lambasted Biden for boasting about his past ties with the pro-segregation lawmakers.
“Segregationists were famously chill about who got to eat lunch together,” National Review senior writer Dan McLaughlin quipped.
“Nothing like a hot lunch with a segregationist… ” political commentator Dave Rubin tweeted.
“[O]f course you ate lunch together. [Y]ou were allowed to sit at their counter,” National Journalism Center program director Becket Adams pointed out.
“Brunch with Bigots, am I right?!” The Lafayette Co. president Ellen Carmichael exclaimed.
“For one, Biden admitting just casually sharing meals with ‘real segregationists’; second, ‘real segregationists’ seems to be an implied admission that when he says stuff today like ‘Jim Crow 2.0’, he knows it’s not real,” Pluribus editor Jeryl Bier wrote.
“Joe Biden be like ‘ultra MAGA is so extreme and I just long for the days of when I could eat lunch with segregationists,'” Abigail Marone, press secretary for Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., swiped the president.
Biden’s own vice president Kamala Harris famously went after him for singing the praises of his former segregationist colleagues in the Senate during a fiery exchange in the 2019 Democratic primary debate.
The president’s latest comments follow ones he made during a Cinco de Mayo celebration at the White House on Thursday where he kicked off his remarks by telling a story recalling the “prejudice” toward Irish people.
He also went on a strange tangent about Spanish-speaking students in American schools.
The remarks come as Politico reported that White House staff have largely avoided press events in the Oval Office because it lacked a “permanently equipped teleprompter.”
“Biden aides prefer the fake White House stage built in the Old Executive Office Building next door for events, sacrificing some of the power of the historic backdrop in favor of an otherwise sterile room that was outfitted with an easily read teleprompter screen,” the report noted.