Joe Biden used a quote from brutal Chinese dictator Mao Zedong to explain his pick of Kamala Harris as his running mate during the ticket’s first public interview Sunday.
When asked by ABC News’s Robin Roberts whether he felt “pressure to select a black woman,” Biden responded by saying he did not feel pressure, explaining that he did want his government to “look like the people, look like the country.”
“51 percent of the people in this country are women,” he said. “As that old expression goes, ‘women hold up half the sky.’”
EXCLUSIVE: Choosing Kamala Harris as his running mate was "an easy decision to make," Joe Biden tells @RobinRoberts, citing her role on the Senate Judiciary Committee: "I watched her just insist on getting the answers." https://t.co/zqZAx4C01t pic.twitter.com/ladzXv7cW5
— ABC News (@ABC) August 23, 2020
Biden’s reference to “that old expression” is in fact a well-known proclamation that Mao made to promote women leaving the home amid the Cultural Revolution in China. It was then widely used as propaganda during the “Great Leap Forward,” during which Mao’s regime caused the deaths of an estimated 45 million Chinese people from 1958 to 1962.
It is not the first time that Biden has used the quote — in July, he said the same phrase during a digital fundraiser with former Obama senior adviser Valerie Jarrett.
“We’ve got to get real economic relief into women’s hands now,” Biden reportedly said at the time before referencing Mao’s quote.
Anita Dunn, who now serves as a senior adviser to Biden, called Mao one of her “favorite political philosophers” during an address to graduating high schoolers in 2009.
“Mao Zedong said, ‘You fight your war and I’ll fight mine,’” she said at the time. “Think about that for a second. You don’t have to accept the definition of how to do things, and you don’t have to follow other people’s choices and paths. You fight your own war, you lay out your own path.”
After the comments were publicly reported, Dunn resigned as acting White House Communications Director under former President Barack Obama.