‘I do not believe you are a racist’ sets off Kamala Harris-Joe Biden clash

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Democratic debates in Miami

Ten Democratic presidential candidates, including Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, participate in the second night of debates at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami.

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California Sen. Kamala Harris launched a coordinated attack on former Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday, arguing that her very presence on the 2020 debate stage was in spite of, and not because of, Biden’s record in the U.S. Senate.

After an hour of policy talk, Harris, the only African-American candidate on stage, went after Biden’s long record on racial issues and opposition to federal funding for interracial busing in the U.S. Senate.

“I do not believe you are a racist, and I agree with you when you commit yourself to the importance of finding common ground,” Harris said. “But I also believe, and it’s personal, and it was actually very hurtful to hear you talk about the reputations of two United States senators who built their reputations and career on the segregation of race in this country. And it was not only that but you also worked with them to oppose busing.”

She then recounted her experience as a student in Berkeley, California.

“There was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public schools and she was bused to schools every day, and that little girl was me. Vice President Biden, do agree today, do you agree today that you were wrong to oppose busing in America then? Do you agree?” Harris asked.

Biden went on defense, arguing that local governments had the right at the time to oppose it.

“I did not oppose busing in America,” Biden said. “What I opposed is busing ordered by the Department of Education. That’s what I opposed.”

And in 2019, Harris had a tweet ready to go, suggesting that the line of attack on Biden was pre-planned.