Biden grilled for reminiscing about having lunch with ‘real segregationists’

President was apparently urging politicians to treat each other more cordially.

Updated: May 7, 2022 - 9:47am

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President Joe Biden this week was heavily criticized after reminiscing about taking meals with “real segregationists,” a reflection the president apparently hoped would illustrate the need for civility and camaraderie among Capitol Hill politicians.

Biden delivered the remarks on Friday during a tour of the United Performance Metals facility in Hamilton, Ohio, where the president was meeting with industry leaders to discuss economic policy. 

"You know, things have kind of changed since I first got [to Washington],” Biden said during the event. “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.”

"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,” he said. “but we ended up eating lunch together. Things have changed. We got to bring it back."

Biden’s remarks were heavily criticized by conservative commentators around the country. 

"Segregationists were famously chill about who got to eat lunch together," National Review senior writer Dan McLaughlin wrote, a reference to the segregated lunch counters that populated the South prior to the Civil Rights Movement.

“[O]f course you ate lunch together,” National Journalism Center Program Director Becket Adams wrote. “[Y]ou were allowed to sit at their counter.”