‘Some Seem Keen on a Revolution’

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During an otherwise softball interview with former Vice President Joe Biden aired on Thursday, NBC’s Today show co-host Craig Melvin started off by pressing the 2020 Democratic candidate on the support for socialist Senator Bernie Sanders, who “has been able to convince so many people, especially so many young people, that he’s their guy.”

Biden dismissed Sanders promising “everything” to people and declared that “the idea that there’s going to be this revolution, Americans aren’t looking for a revolution, they’re looking for progress.” Melvin objected: “But Mr. Vice President, some seem keen on a revolution.”

Following the Sanders discussion, Melvin went to work boosting Biden’s candidacy: “If you were not the nominee, what does that then say about the Democratic Party?” Biden warned: “It says to me that we have moved away from our roots. We have always stood for a multi-ethic, multi-racial, multi-dimensional party.”

Melvin then assured viewers: “The former Vice President determined to win, but not at the cost of changing his beliefs.” Biden declared: “I tell everybody who’s ever come to me as a young candidate, know what’s worth losing over. What are you willing to lose over?” Melvin took his cue: “What are you willing to lose over?” Biden proclaimed: “I’m willing to lose over race, I’m willing to lose over health care, I’m willing to lose over the idea that we have to deal with global warming.”

After the taped report, Melvin recounted an unaired portion of the interview where he suggested left-wing California Senator Kamala Harris as a possible running mate: “I asked him if he’s also considering picking a black woman for vice president. While he told me he has not started to have those conversations, it would be premature, he did say that Kamala Harris would fit the bill, when I brought up her name specifically.”

That exchange did air during Melvin’s 11:00 a.m. ET hour show on MSNBC:

Completely missing from Melvin’s friendly chat with Biden were any tough questions about the former Vice President’s tendency to fabricate stories and share false information. Just this week, fact checkers from The Washington Post and Snopes slammed Biden for inventing a tale about being arrested in South Africa for trying to visit a then-imprisoned Nelson Mandela during apartheid.

During Tuesday night’s Democratic Debate, Biden absurdly claimed that “150 million people have been killed since 2007” due to gun violence. If that were true, nearly half the population of the United States would have died in the past 13 years.

On Wednesday, the Associated Press called out Biden for falsely claiming the Trump administration had “cut the funding for the entire effort” to combat diseases like the coronavirus.

Those are just a few recent examples of Biden getting the facts wrong, something any journalist sitting down for an interview with him should have asked about.

Here is a full transcript of Melvin’s February 27 report on NBC’s Today show:

7:13 AM ET

CRAIG MELVIN:  Joe Biden’s campaign got some good news this morning from the paper of record here in South Carolina, the Charleston Post and Courier. And the headline here is that Biden, his lead in the state has actually widened. Just to give you some perspective here, even if Joe Biden does win on Saturday, a lot of folks will be looking at the size of the margin of that victory. Four years ago, Hillary Clinton beat Bernie Sanders by some 45 percentage points, just to give you some perspective.

But as you mentioned, Kristen [Welker], that highly coveted endorsement from Congressman Jim Clyburn coming at a time when Biden really needs to shore up support among African-American voters specifically. A recent poll showing Bernie Sanders has surpassed him when it comes to black voters nationwide. Shortly after that endorsement yesterday, I caught up with the former Vice President for an exclusive sit-down.

JOE BIDEN: If you send me out of South Carolina with a victory, there will be no stopping us.

MELVIN: Joe Biden, in desperate need of a win, betting big in South Carolina. The former Vice President staking his candidacy on a major win in this state, one that could give him much needed momentum to challenge Bernie Sanders’ frontrunner status.

Why do you think that Bernie Sanders has been able to convince so many people, especially so many young people, that he’s their guy?

BIDEN: Well, Bernie has done a very good job of working this for the last five or six years, and, you know, it’s really appealing when you’re in a situation where you’re struggling to pay for your college tuition, when you’re having difficulty in being able to get health care, et cetera, just to promise you everything. And so, I think that as people begin to look at what’s going on, they’re gonna have a slightly different view. And look, the idea that there’s going to be this revolution, Americans aren’t looking for a revolution, they’re looking for progress.

MELVIN: But Mr. Vice President, some seem keen on a revolution.

BIDEN: Well, some do. But look at the numbers, he’s not going to come anywhere near generating the kind of participation of young folks that Barack did in 2008. There’s no evidence of that yet.  

MELVIN: Bernie Sanders won Nevada, won New Hampshire, came in a close second in Iowa, he’s expected to finish second or third here in South Carolina. If he does, how can you then continue to make the claim that he’s not electable?

BIDEN: Because I talk to all the people who are in those states that we have to win. Find me someone running for the Senate in North Carolina who wants him to campaign for them. Find somebody in Texas who wants him to campaign for them.

REP. JIM CLYBURN [D-SC]: I know Joe. We know Joe. But most importantly, Joe knows us.

MELVIN: South Carolina kingmaker, Congressman Jim Clyburn, throwing his weight behind Biden just days before the state’s primary. But when it comes to another key endorsement –  

I know you don’t talk about your private conversations with the President [Obama], but why hasn’t he at least sent up a smoke signal to let folks know that Joe Biden is his guy in this fight?

BIDEN: Well, look, number one, I asked him early on not to endorse.

MELVIN: Do you regret that?

BIDEN: No, because I think, look, from the very beginning, as you know, I’ve been viewed – “He’s Vice President, he thinks this is his. He thinks he’s entitled. He thinks he’s the guy who thinks it’s automatically his.” I have to earn this myself.

MELVIN: If you were not the nominee, what does that then say about the Democratic Party?

BIDEN: It says to me that we have moved away from our roots. We have always stood for a multi-ethic, multi-racial, multi-dimensional party. My basis of support has always been working class folks who are white and black, and the black community, and high school educated people who just deserve a shot.

MELVIN: The former Vice President determined to win, but not at the cost of changing his beliefs.

BIDEN: I tell everybody who’s ever come to me as a young candidate, know what’s worth losing over. What are you willing to lose over?

MELVIN: What are you willing to lose over?

BIDEN: I’m willing to lose over race, I’m willing to lose over health care, I’m willing to lose over the idea that we have to deal with global warming. I don’t want the job if I have to go in there and say, “I’m changing my position on race. I’m changing my position on guns. I’m changing my position.”

MELVIN: Joe Biden here in Charleston on a Wednesday morning there. He also told me that he is quite confident he’ll come out on top here, a win that he believes will launch him all the way to the White House.

He recently pledged in that debate that he would also nominate a black woman to the Supreme Court, so I asked him if he’s also considering picking a black woman for vice president. While he told me he has not started to have those conversations, it would be premature, he did say that Kamala Harris would fit the bill, when I brought up her name specifically. He insisted, though, they have not had those conversations just yet.

Joe Biden also telling me that after he leaves South Carolina on Saturday, he’s going to head to North Carolina and then Selma, Alabama, as they gear up for Super Tuesday, which of course just three days after the primary here in South Carolina, ladies.

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Yeah. Love it when you cover politics in your home state, Craig.

HODA KOTB: You’re home, babe.

GUTHRIE: Yeah, thank you so much. We’ll check in, in a little bit.

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