It was perhaps “the moment” of the two night Democratic presidential debate in Miami. California Sen. Kamala Harris confronted frontrunner former Vice President Joe Biden on his record regarding his position on racial issues and his recent comments defending two former senators known for their segregationists views.
“I do not believe you are a racist,” Harris said as she turned to face Biden on the stage in Miami Thursday night. But, she added, “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.
“And it was not only that, but you also worked with them to oppose busing. And, you know, there was a little girl in California who was a part of the second class to integrate her public schools, and she was bused to school every day. And that little girl was me.”
Biden, shot back declaring Harris’ accusation “a mischaracterization of my position across the board.” He rattled off civil rights measures he had supported and tried to defend his opposition to busing during the 1970s and 1980s.
“I did not oppose busing in America. What I opposed is busing ordered by the Department of Education,” he said.
“That’s where the federal government must step in, that’s why we have the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act,” Harris quickly shot back. “Because there are moments in history where states fail to preserve the civil rights of all people.”
The exchange appeared to be part of Harris’ debate strategy. Within minutes after her comments her campaign tweeted out a picture of Harris as a young schoolgirl.
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) June 28, 2019
Was it an effective move?
Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics writes in his Crystal Ball report Friday morning: “Some critics found her to be too hard-edged, even mean, but that was not a view widely shared among Democratic pols and pundits,” Sabato shares. “Simply put, Harris is a contender.”
Sabato says he’ll be surprised if Harris doesn’t show movement in the next round of polls.
“Harris’s objective is clear,” Sabato goes onto say. “She needs to shake or split Biden’s strong African-American support so she can scoop it up (presumably, though Cory Booker and others have a different plan for those voters). At the very least, debate watchers in July and beyond are going to pay close attention every time she has the floor.”
For Republican observers the telling moment of Thursday’s debate came when all ten candidates on stage were asked to raise their hands if they supported using tax dollars to pay for healthcare for undocumented immigrants.
All ten candidates raised their hands.
“In last night’s Democrat debate, every single 2020 candidate on stage raised their hand when asked if they support giving illegal immigrants taxpayer-funded healthcare in what’s emerged as the latest litmus test for radical Democrats,” said Republican National Committee spokesman Rick Gorka said in a statement released Friday morning.
“It’s beyond extreme, and there’s no way the American people are going to support it,” Gorka said.
The moment brought a quick response from President Donald Trump who was attending the G-20 Summit in Japan.
“All Democrats just raised their hands for giving millions of illegal aliens unlimited healthcare. How about taking care of American Citizens first!?” Trump tweeted. “That’s the end of that race!”
All Democrats just raised their hands for giving millions of illegal aliens unlimited healthcare. How about taking care of American Citizens first!? That’s the end of that race!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 28, 2019
“I wasn’t impressed,” Trump said before attending a meeting at the summit. “It’s become the socialist party.”
“I heard a rumor that the Democrats are going to change their name from the Democratic Party to the socialist party,” he added.