President Joe Biden fondly remembered eating lunch with segregationist members of the Senate while giving a statement in Ohio on Friday. The recall of his shared experiences with late Sens. Strom Thurmond and James Eastland came up as Biden harkened back to signing the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill into law last year and acknowledged the roles of Sens. Rob Portman (R-OH) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH), both of whom were in attendance at United Performance Metals in Hamilton. [tweet_embed] May 9, 2022[/tweet_embed] "You know, things have kind of changed since the days when I first got there. He’s been there a couple of terms. I was there — I got elected when I was 29 years old, from a very modest background in the United States Senate. And I was there for 36 years before becoming vice president," Biden said. "We always used to fight like hell — and even back in the old days when we had real segregationists, like Eastland and Thurmond and all those guys — but at least we’d end up eating lunch together," Biden added. "Things have changed. We've got to bring it back." Those comments served as fodder for the Republican National Committee, which posted a clip to Twitter. [tweet_embed] May 9, 2022[/tweet_embed] Biden has a history of praising South Carolina's Thurmond, who Biden called “one of my closest friends,” and other segregationist colleagues from his time in the Senate. Biden calling up two of his 1970s segregationist colleagues on the 2020 campaign trail even prompted denunciation from Democratic rivals Sens. Cory Booker and Kamala Harris, the only two black candidates among the more than 20 Democrats competing for the presidency. Harris is now Biden's vice president. After fondly recalling his lunch dates with Eastland and Thurmond, Biden addressed Portman, who is retiring. "Rob, I’m sorry you’re leaving because you’re one of the good guys. I don’t mean — I mean because the way you treat other senators, the way you treat everybody. I appreciate it," he said. [tweet_embed] May 9, 2022[/tweet_embed] Biden’s comments sparked immediate backlash online. “Segregationists were famously chill about who got to eat lunch together,” joked Dan Mclaughlin, a senior reporter at the National Review, in a tweet Friday. “Nothing like a hot lunch with a segregationist…” quipped conservative political commentator David Rubin. “Biden is wistful for the good old days of senatorial comity with open racists who fought for & defended state-imposed racial segregation,” tweeted Washington Examiner DOJ reporter Jerry Dunleavy. [tweet_embed] May 9, 2022[/tweet_embed] “That’s nothing to be proud of Mr. President,” said NFL Hall of Famer and sports talk show host Shannon Sharpe. This is not the first time Biden has been condemned for discussing how he previously worked with segregationist colleagues in the Senate.