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Biden Gives First Response to 'Put Ya'll Back in Chains' Controversy: I've Been Saying It for Awhile


"a better relationship with the black audience than anybody you know"

Joe Biden (Photo Credit: AP)

Vice President Joe Biden, known for uttering occasional gaffes, is still recovering from one of his most contentious verbal blunders of late -- telling an audience that included African Americans that Romney and the GOP would put them "back in chains." In the wake of the furor surrounding these comments, New York Magazine's John Heilemann details Biden's vehemently dismissive response.

Heilemann, of course, got some jabs in at conservatives, calling the response to Biden's "put ya'll back in chains" remarks "a flaming freak-show conflagration." He also wrote that "an array of conservative ­ultra-Caucasians" accused Biden of "race-baiting." Regardless, the comments coming from the vice-president, as reported by Heilmann, are fascinating.

While Biden was originally quiet in the wake of the incident, he had plenty to say in his recent interview with the magazine. In an effort to dismiss the critiques waged against him, Biden said that his words were nothing new, nor were they intended to offend. In fact, similar language, he maintains, has been used by Republicans.

"Look, I’ve been saying that exact same thing since [John] Boehner made his speech … where he used the phrase that you’ve gotta unshackle the economy, unshackle Wall Street," Biden said. "You got a whole bunch of examples of where I said, ‘The last time these guys unshackled the economy, they put the middle class in shackles—they shackled you’ … It’s the exact same thing Romney’s talking about: first, being able to do away with Dodd-Frank, and, man, if that happens again, the middle class is gonna get screwed.

Biden maintains that he treats African Americans no differently than he does any other audience and that his language wasn't particularly geared towards the black community. Also, he said that he has "a better relationship with the black audience than anybody you know" and that he doesn't think blacks who heard the speech thought that he was saying Romney would literally put African Americans back in chains.

Biden said that the entire controversy was manufactured to help Romney's campaign and that it was a move being taken out of "desperation." Of Ryan's candidacy, the vice-president said that "it didn't go so well or they wouldn’t be looking for this whole thing."

In the end, Biden told New York Magazine that his comments won't impact voters. Read the rest of the feature on Biden here.



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