MSNBC pundit Jason Johnson said this week that former Vice President Joe Biden cannot win the nomination by just putting on “this Obama mask” and think that will be enough to win party’s critical black voters. The Root’s political editor noticed that Biden did not attend last weekend’s Essence Fest—“one of the largest collections of African-American women of all classes, levels, and education sizes”—and argued that he cannot take the black vote for granted.

“He can’t put on this Obama mask and think that that’s going to allow him to skirt through,” Johnson said, pointing out that African-American women represent the party’s “backbone,” especially when it comes to “turnout, interest, passion.”

Biden apologized for praising segregationist senators over weekend but reporters badgered him about whether his constant name-checking of former President Barack Obama is a “sign of weakness” and an indication that Biden can’t stand on his own feet.

Biden simply replied: “I say let’s talk about the future instead of talking about the past.”