Joe Biden bragged about a harsh 1992 crime bill that did 'everything but hang people for jaywalking'
- Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden once touted a 1992 crime bill as particularly effective because of how aggressively it provided for the death penalty.
- Biden, then a US Senator from Delaware, boasted that the bill does "everything but hang people for jaywalking."
- Biden has repeatedly come under attack from his fellow Democratic candidates and others for his past stances on key issues that are now outside the considerably more liberal party orthodoxy.
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Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden pushed crime legislation in 1992 on the theme that it was aggressive in going after criminals. Aiming his comments toward critics of the bill as too weak on crime, Biden specifically boasted of how frequently the bill would result in pursuing the death penalty.
Biden, then a senator from Delaware, characterized his bill during a May 14, 1992 speech on the Senate floor as legislation that would "do everything but hang people for jaywalking."
The resurfaced comments come at a time when Biden is facing backlash for his past positions and has even hinted at reversing his stance on support for capital punishment.
"Let me tell you what is in the bill and I'll let you all decide whether or not this is weak," he said. "Let me get down here a compendium of the things that are in the bill. One, the death penalty. It provides 53 death penalty offenses. Weak as can be, you know?"
"We do everything but hang people for jaywalking in this bill," Biden added. "That's weak stuff," he sarcastically intoned.
The 1992 comments are a stark contrast from Biden's current rhetoric on the campaign trail.
The former vice president recently congratulated a group of New Hampshire voters on their state's recent decision to abolish the death penalty, according to Politico. Although, as Politico notes, Biden has not made any statement on the campaign trail clarifying whether or not he still supports the death penalty, as he did for over three decades in the Senate.
Biden has fought back criticisms in recent weeks for his past stances, as well as for new comments that are out of step with most of the Democratic presidential candidates, many of whom are considerably further to the left than him.
When Biden expressed a fondness for being able to work with and find compromises with pro-segregation lawmakers of the 20th century, several high profile Democrats condemned the remarks as racially insensitive.
Biden does not appear to be backing down either, while maintaining considerable support among black lawmakers and a sizable chunk of prospective Democratic primary voters. But things could quickly turn bad for Biden, who will be center stage next week during the first round of primary debates, where his 2020 rivals will all be looking to chip away at his lead.