Black Lawmakers Give Joe Biden a Warm Reception

Black Lawmakers Give Joe Biden a Warm Reception

Vice President Joe Biden, right, shakes hands with NAACP President and CEO Cornell William Brooks at the NAACP annual convention Wednesday, July 23, 2014, in Las Vegas. Biden called on members of the NAACP to spread the word about what he called "a hailstorm" of measures to restrict citizens’ ability to vote, trying to rally the Democratic Party'’s base before the midterm elections. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Vice President Joe Biden, right, shakes hands with NAACP President and CEO Cornell William Brooks at the NAACP annual convention Wednesday, July 23, 2014, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Kyle Cheney, POLITICO

 
(Politico) – Vice President Joe Biden’s last-minute decision to score some facetime with powerful black leaders may do little to shake their strong inclination toward Hillary Clinton. But among the rank-and-file attendees at Saturday’s prayer breakfast hosted by the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, the Democratic primary is still a wide open fight.

Biden earned several warm ovations from the admiring crowd, and he held court for 20 minutes while breakfast was served, posing for selfies with dozens of fans and turning on his classic, toothy charm as he clasped hands with well-wishers and slapped the backs of strangers angling to get close to him.

If his appearance was a trial balloon for a presidential bid, the message from attendees would do little to dissuade him.

“I think that we should have a chance to choose from among a good variety of candidates,” said Jim Baker, a management consultant from Philadelphia who said he’s ridden the Amtrak with Biden. “Choice is better than only one option. He’s a great man.”

As Biden inches closer to a presidential bid, his relationship with the black community could be an instructive bellwether. African Americans remember the presidency of Bill Clinton fondly, and Hillary Clinton’s own advocacy and work for the community has helped her capture the support of a majority of black lawmakers and solid backing in polls of black voters.

But attendees at the event told POLITICO that younger voters who didn’t come of age in the Clinton years have less of a connection to the former First Lady and secretary of state. Biden, as vice president in the administration of the first black president, may engender a lot of support for his role as Barack Obama’s top ally.
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