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Michelle Obama refused to comment on Biden's apology following segregationist comments

Business Insider | Jul 8, 2019, 01.57AM IST

michelle obama essence fest

Photo by Amy Harris/Invision/AP

Michelle Obama and Gayle King seen at the 2019 Essence Festival at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, Saturday, July 6, 2019, in New Orleans.

  • Michelle Obama on Saturday would not comment on a recent clash on race between presidential hopefuls Sen. Kamala Harris and Joe Biden.
  • She also held off on endorsing any candidate in the crowded Democratic field.
  • Following backlash over his comments on segregationist lawmakers in June, Biden has sought to emphasize his ties to the Obamas.
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Former first lady Michelle Obama on Saturday stayed silent on a recent clash on race between presidential hopefuls Sen. Kamala Harris and Joe Biden and held off on an endorsing any candidate in the crowded Democratic field.

"I've been doing this rodeo far too long," Obama told CBS This Morning co-host Gayle King at the Essence Festival in New Orleans, responding to a question about an apology Biden had made. "No comments."

At a campaign event in South Carolina on Saturday, Biden apologized for having touted in June his ability to work with segregationist lawmakers in the past. He sought to highlight his civil rights record, also emphasizing his time serving as vice president in the Obama White House.

"I regret it, and I'm sorry for any of the pain of misconception that I caused anybody," Biden said.

Read more: Joe Biden's past work with segregationist senators is a major deal breaker for lots of Democrats

Biden has drawn sharp backlash for the comments, including in a contentious exchange with Harris at the first Democratic presidential debate last month. He had also pushed back against the California senator's criticism of his opposition to federally-mandated busing in the 1970s.

Obama didn't endorse Biden or any candidate in her interview with King on Saturday, saying that she and Barack would support whoever wins the Democratic nomination.

"It's like trying to figure out who's going to win the World Series on the first seven games, that's where we are right now," she said. "It's so early and things will change."

Biden was not among several presidential candidates who attended the Essence Festival, which is the largest annual gathering of black women in the country. Asked on Sunday what his message was after skipping, Biden pointed to past statements and career moves.

"Everything I've said all along," he said, according to Bloomberg News reporter Jennifer Epstein. "Take a look, see what I stand for and what I stand for is everything about promoting women generally and black women in particular. And it's everything about my career."

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