The Latest: Biden says comments taken out of context

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — The Latest on Democratic presidential candidates in South Carolina (all times local):

6:45 p.m.

Joe Biden says his controversial comments about segregationists have been taken out of context.

At a fundraiser earlier this week, Biden recalled that in his early days in the Senate, a segregationist lawmaker called him “son,” though not “boy,” a reference to the racist way some whites addressed black men at the time.

Biden tells Al Sharpton on MSNBC that he was trying to demonstrate that the lawmaker didn’t respect him.

Biden says, “I do understand the consequence of the word ‘boy,’ but it wasn’t said in any of that context at all.”

One of Biden’s 2020 rivals, Cory Booker, has called on Biden to apologize for the remarks. Biden didn’t apologize during the MSNBC interview but said “to the extent that anybody thought I meant something different, that is not what I intended.”


6:25 p.m.

Former Vice President Joe Biden is dropping a few hints about his promised criminal justice proposals.

He said at the South Carolina Democratic Convention that he wants to eliminate federal mandatory sentencing laws, eliminate use of private prisons, better fund drug courts, decriminalize marijuana and expunge existing marijuana convictions from anyone’s record.

He also for immediate restoration of rights for anyone who has completed their sentence.

Biden has taken heat for his lead role in a 1994 crime bill that critics blame as a contributor to mass incarceration.


5:55 p.m.

Former Vice President Joe Biden is offering a long list of policy proposals as he campaigns in the early primary state of South Carolina.

Biden told the South Carolina Democratic Party Convention on Saturday that he wants an $8,000 per child credit for child care.

He promised to pursue repeal of the 2017 tax cuts “on Day One.” He also promised to repeal as much as $500 billion on tax loopholes.

Besides the child-care credit, Biden called for spending money from closing tax loopholes on two-year college tuition grants and a public option health insurance plan, among other ideas.

Biden is leading early 2020 primary polls. But he’s also drawn criticism for not offering as detailed a policy map as some rivals, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren.


5:50 p.m.

New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker tells South Carolina Democrats that the party can strive for so much more than defeating President Donald Trump next year, saying that beating Trump “is the floor” and “not the ceiling.”

Booker and other Democrats seeking the party’s nomination spoke Saturday to party activists in Columbia at the South Carolina Democratic Party convention.

Booker didn’t refer to former Vice President Joe Biden, with whom he has recently feuded, or any of the party’s other presidential contenders. He repeated his view that Trump’s message is “all about hate” while his is “all about love.”


2:15 p.m.

Bernie Sanders is hammering back at a centrist Democratic group he says is dismissing him as an “existential threat” to the party’s 2020 hopes.

The Vermont senator and second-time presidential candidate hammered Third Way as a corporate-financed group as he spoke Saturday at the South Carolina Democratic convention.

Some of the group’s members have garnered fresh attention for warming toward liberal Sen. Elizabeth Warren. She is perhaps Sanders’ biggest threat for support on Democrats’ left flank.

Sanders argued Saturday that he can win a general election against President Donald Trump not by winning over the middle of the traditional electorate but instead by attracting millions of new voters.


12:03 p.m.

Elizabeth Warren is getting a warm welcome from South Carolina Democrats as she argues that her campaign for “big ideas” can appeal across the political spectrum.

The Massachusetts senator said she can “draw in Democrats and Republicans” who want to “make government work for everyone.”

Warren has spent months building her campaign in the key early primary state whose Democratic electorate is dominated by black voters and moderate whites.

She didn’t mention front-runner Joe Biden. But her emphasis counters the former vice president’s fundamental claim that he’s the best general election option to oust President Donald Trump.


11:35 a.m.

California Sen. Kamala Harris is taking a prosecutor’s case straight at President Donald Trump as she campaigns in South Carolina.

The former local district attorney and state attorney general told thousands at the South Carolina Democratic Party convention on Saturday that Trump has a long “rap sheet” that Democrats’ 2020 nominee must be able to use against him in a general election.

She hammered Trump for everything from tax policy benefiting the rich and trade policies hurting farmers to a lack of civil rights protections for marginalized Americans.

Harris added that Democrats shouldn’t “turn back the clock” and instead “start the next chapter.”

She never mentioned Democratic front-runner Joe Biden, but her spirited speech seemed to attack the former vice president’s argument that he’s the Democrat with the best shot to defeat the president.


11:30 a.m.

Mayor Pete Buttigieg is telling South Carolina Democrats that his city will recover from the racial wounds exposed after a South Bend police officer shot and killed a black man last week.

Buttigieg told a large crowd, including hundreds of black voters, that South Bend, Indiana, “is full of people who believe in safety and justice.” He said an independent investigation of the incident will help the city “become stronger in the broken places.”

The mayor spoke at the South Carolina Democratic Convention a day after being jeered and protested in his home city.

Buttigieg’s relationship with black South Bend residents has gotten more scrutiny in recent months. Black voters historically cast more than half of South Carolina’s presidential primary ballots.


9:05 a.m.

Nearly the entire Democratic presidential field will address hundreds of South Carolina Democrats on Saturday as the candidates look to make connections in a key early nominating state.

The South Carolina state party convention is part of a big political weekend for the South’s first primary state, with more than 20 candidates campaigning at various party events.

Most of the candidates also will appear Saturday at a separate Planned Parenthood forum on abortion rights.

South Carolina offers the largest Democratic primary electorate of the four early nominating states, and it’s the only early primary historically dominated by older black voters and white voters who trend more moderate than the national party.


1:00 a.m.

Almost the entire sprawling Democratic presidential field of more than 20 candidates took the same stage in the South’s first primary state, looking to make connections in a primary battleground that has helped propel the party’s last two nominees.

Former Vice President Joe Biden reintroduced himself to South Carolina voters at gatherings he’s attended many times before. His rivals tried to convince a boisterous throng at a Friday event to consider a new path.

House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn’s annual fish fry, a longstanding event that this year has blossomed into a centerpiece ahead of the 2020 election. The weekend events include the state party convention and a Planned Parenthood forum on abortion rights Saturday.