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Will Charlamagne Tha God's views on Biden impact other voters?


Going to hear the word unprecedented a lot during the 2024 election year as a former president tries to regain office while indicted, including charges that stemmed from the deadly violence at the U.S. Capitol that occurred on this day three years ago. Also unprecedented are some of the political nostrums now under scrutiny. Do good economic numbers necessarily help the incumbent? Can a candidate actually gain popularity each time they're indicted? Do influential voices among key blocs of voters actually win votes?


UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Do you think there is any Democrat who could defeat Donald Trump other than you?

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: Probably 50 of them.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: You do believe that there are.

BIDEN: I'm not the only one who could beat him, but I will defeat him.

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: Oh, my God. This is Biden's ego talking. OK? If you think there are other people who can beat him, step aside.

SIMON: That's Charlamagne tha God guest-hosting "The Daily Show" on Comedy Central last month. We're going to turn now to Brakkton Booker, a demigod with Politico, who joins us now. Brakkton, thanks so much for being with us.

BRAKKTON BOOKER: Thanks for having me, Scott.

SIMON: You sat down with Charlamagne tha God. Of course, he hosts a radio show called "Breakfast Club." You discovered a complicated relationship between the Biden administration and him, didn't you?

BOOKER: I did. I did. That was probably one of the most surprising things. He kind of back-channels with the White House periodically. But that relationship has somewhat soured, mainly because Charlamagne does not hold any punches when he thinks that the Biden administration could be better cheerleaders and articulators of their policy achievements, but they don't seem to want to take cues from Donald Trump and play up some of their policy wins. And so that has really caused a frosting of the relationship between Charlamagne and the White House.

SIMON: What are a couple other points of disagreement?

BOOKER: Well, look, Charlamagne has become this thorn in the side of the administration, calling out the administration, calling out Biden's mental acuity at times, kind of lamenting, like, why are we in this place that, you know, we're having this Biden-Trump rematch? So if you are looking to grab votes, like President Biden is, then maybe Charlamagne's show is not a place you want to go, because you're going to be subjected to some very tough questioning and maybe not as friendly as a atmosphere as you once were.

SIMON: And the ultimate concern would be in a close election, if the enthusiasm level is down, you might pay for it politically.

BOOKER: Well, yeah, I mean, I - Black voters are the base of the Democratic Party. And that's why you see Biden is going to be in South Carolina on Monday, going to Mother Emanuel AME Church, the site where they had the horrific shooting back in 2015 at a at a Black church. And you're seeing he's using that as the backdrop to show Black voters that he still cares. He's still making inroads. He's still making contact and playing up issues that are important to Black voters. So look, it remains to be seen whether or not this will help in Biden's efforts to bring Black voters home, but certainly it is a concern for the Biden reelection campaign.

SIMON: In this article you point out some of Charlamagne's - what we inevitably have to call viral moments. May of 2020, Joe Biden said, you ain't Black if you vote for Trump. He was criticized for taking Black votes for granted. Hillary Clinton, 2016, said she always carried hot sauce. She was accused of pandering. But did they actually lose votes from the Black community?

BOOKER: Look, in both instances, Biden and Clinton overwhelmingly won Black support. But when you look at the Biden you ain't Black, people kind of repeat that phrase often enough where some folks are starting to wonder, well, can he get back to those numbers that he had in 2020? So many people, especially Black and brown voters, are looking at economic factors and saying, well, if you have to choose between two of these very well-known candidates, maybe just give Trump another chance because you felt like you were in better economic footing under the previous administration.

SIMON: Brakkton Booker of Politico. Brakkton, thanks so much for coming back.

BOOKER: Yeah, thanks for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Scott Simon
Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.