Screenshot via MSNBC
- Harris directly confronted Biden over comments he made at a recent fundraiser reflecting on the days of "civility" in the Senate when he worked with people he disagreed with, including two Democratic Senators who opposed desegregation.
- Harris said, "it’s personal, and it was hurtful to hear you talk about the reputations of two United States Senators who is built their reputations and career on the segregation of race in this country."
- Biden strongly denied Harris’ charges, saying, "it’s a mischaracterization of my position across the board. I do not praise racists. That is not true," and he cited his time working as a public defender.
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After a brief discussion on police accountability and reparations, Harris directly confronted Biden — who served in the Senate from 1974 to 2009 — over comments he made at a recent fundraiser reflecting on the days of "civility" in the Senate when he worked with people he didn’t disagree with, including two Democratic Senators who supported segregation when he was a young Senator.
"I was in a caucus with James O. Eastland. He never called me ‘boy,’ he always called me ‘son,’" Biden said. "Well guess what? At least there was some civility. We got things done. We didn’t agree on much of anything. We got things done. We got it finished."
Harris, who is African-American and Indian-America, said to Biden, "I do not believe you are a racist and I agree with you when you commit yourself to the importance of finding common ground, but it’s personal and it was 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."
As INSIDER’s John Haltiwanger wrote, while Biden supported busing in 1972, after his white constituents began vocally opposing it, "by 1973 and 1974, Biden attempted to tow a careful line by vocally supporting desegregation while voting in favor of anti-busing policies."
Harris then drew a sharp contrast between herself and Biden over the issue of busing. "There was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public schools and she was bused to school every day," she said. "That little girl was me. So I will tell you that on this subject, it cannot be an intellectual debate among Democrats."
Biden strongly denied Harris’ charges, saying, "it’s a mischaracterization of my position across the board. I do not praise racists. That is not true," and he cited his time working as a public defender for the cause of civil rights before becoming a senator.
He then tried to deflect responsibility for his role in opposing busing at the time, telling Harris that not he nor other Senators, but the local politicians and city council members in Harris’ hometown were responsible for busing policy, not he.
"The fact is that in terms of busing, the busing, you would have been able to go to school the same way because it was a local decision made by your city council. That’s fine. That’s one of the things I argued for that we should be breaking down the lines," Biden said.
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