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President Biden in TODAY exclusive: 'I don't think the American people are racist'

The president said in an exclusive interview with TODAY that he doesn't think that Americans are racist, but African Americans are "behind the eight ball" in terms of opportunity.
/ Source: TODAY

President Joe Biden has responded to comments made by Republican Sen. Tim Scott by saying he doesn't think America is racist, but there is still work to be done to address racial issues.

Scott, who is the nation's lone Black Republican senator, touched on the national conversation around systemic racism while giving the GOP's rebuttal to Biden's speech before Congress on Wednesday night.

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"America is not a racist country," the junior senator from South Carolina said, adding that he is an African American who has voted in the South his whole life. "It’s wrong to try to use our painful past to try to dishonestly shut down debates in the present."

In an excerpt from an exclusive interview with TODAY's Craig Melvin that appeared on NBC Nightly News Thursday, Biden was asked if America is a racist country.

"No, I don't think the American people are racist," Biden said. "But I think after 400 years African Americans have been left in a position where they're so far behind the eight ball in terms of education, health, in terms of opportunity."

Biden has frequently employed the term systemic racism, which is used to describe when cultural institutions and systems reflect individual racism.

He has stated that systemic racism can be found in education, health care, criminal justice, the economy and other large sectors of American life.

"I don't think America's racist, but I think the overhang from all of the Jim Crow (laws), and before that slavery, have had a cost, and we have to deal with it," Biden told Craig.

During the interview, Biden also touched on the FBI executing search warrants Wednesday at the apartment and office of Rudy Giuliani as part of the investigation into the attorney for former President Donald Trump. He said he had no advance notice of the FBI's actions, saying he "had no idea this was underway."

To see more of Biden's only interview following his address before a joint session of Congress, tune in to TODAY on Friday morning.