Former Vice President Joe Biden said he “wasn’t prepared” for the onslaught of attacks Sen. Kamala Harris of California launched at him last week during a debate of 2020 Democratic presidential contenders.
In an interview that aired Friday, Biden told CNN’s Chris Cuomo, “I was prepared for them to come after me, but I wasn’t prepared for the person coming at me the way she came at me.”
Biden went on the defensive June 27 during the debate as Harris brought up his past, including comments about him working with segregationists when he was a senator from Delaware.
She also went after Biden’s opposition to forced busing for school desegregation, which really seemed to strike a nerve with the former vice president.
He defended his stance in the CNN interview, telling Cuomo that “busing did not work.”
“You had overwhelming response from the African-American community in my state,” Biden said. “They were, they did not support it. They did not support it.”
He went on to propose an increase in funding for low-income schools, saying, “Every child out there is capable, but they’re living in circumstances that make it difficult.”
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Cuomo pressed Biden on why he didn’t push back and present this during the debate.
“What I didn’t want to do is get in that scrum,” the former vice president said. “Do you think the American public looked at that debate, take me out of it, and thought, ‘Boy, I really liked the way that’s being conducted?’”
Biden says he wasn’t prepared for Kamala Harris to confront him on issues of race during the first Democratic debate: “I was prepared for them to come after me, but I wasn’t prepared for the person coming at me the way she came at me. She knew Beau (Biden) and she knows me” pic.twitter.com/rhpHxQLGtE
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) July 5, 2019
The battle between Harris and Biden appears to have hurt him and helped her, according to the latest Quinnipiac University poll.
The new poll shows that Biden’s overwhelming lead has all but been wiped out. Harris, however, went from garnering only 7 percent of support among voters to 20 percent of support in the latest poll — just two points behind Biden.
Harris wasn’t the only contender to target Biden during the debate.
Rep. Eric Swalwell of California was the first to launch an attack, telling the 76-year-old Biden that it is time for him to “pass the torch.”
“I was 6 years old when a presidential candidate came to the California Democratic convention and said it’s time to pass the torch to a new generation of Americans,” the 38-year-old Swalwell said. “That candidate was then-Sen. Joe Biden.
“Joe Biden was right when he said it was time to pass the torch to a new generation of Americans 32 years ago. He is still right today.
“If we are going to solve the issues of automation, pass the torch. If we are going to solve the issues of climate chaos, pass the torch. If we’re going to solve the issue of student loan debt, pass the torch. If we’re going to end gun violence for families who are fearful of sending their kids to school, pass the torch.”
Biden retorted, “I’m still holding onto that torch. I want to make it clear to you.”
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