Biden Calls Republicans in Congress ‘Worse’ Than Strom Thurmond

President Biden on Wednesday compared the current generation of Republicans in Congress to racist lawmakers of the past, arguing that today’s crop was “worse” because it had sought to undermine the legitimacy of elections.

“I’ve served with real racists,” he said at an evening fund-raiser in California. “I’ve served with Strom Thurmond. I’ve served with all these guys that have set terrible records on race. But guess what? These guys are worse. These guys do not believe in basic democratic principles.”

Mr. Biden, who gave a warm eulogy at Mr. Thurmond’s funeral in 2003 and apologized during the 2020 campaign for having fondly reminisced about working with Southern segregationists, offered a degree of praise for Mr. Thurmond, the long-serving senator from South Carolina and fierce opponent of integration.

“By the time Strom left, he did terrible things,” Mr. Biden said, according to a pool report. But he added that Mr. Thurmond ended up having more African Americans “in his staff than any other member in Congress. He voted to reauthorize the Voting Rights Act.”

Mr. Biden went on: “I’m not making him more than he was. But my point is, at least you could work with some of these guys.”

House Republicans have been holding up an aid package for Ukraine and Israel passed by the Senate, with Speaker Mike Johnson resisting Mr. Biden’s calls to bring the bill to a vote.

During his 2020 presidential bid, Mr. Biden faced fierce criticism from Democratic opponents for invoking two Southern segregationist senators, James O. Eastland of Mississippi and Herman Talmadge of Georgia, both Democrats, as he spoke of the Senate’s “civility” in decades past.

Weeks later, he retreated. “Now, was I wrong a few weeks ago to somehow give the impression to people that I was praising those men who I successfully opposed time and again?” he said. “Yes, I was. I regret it. I’m sorry for any of the pain and misconception I may have caused anybody.”