MIAMI (Reuters) – Presidential candidate Kamala Harris dominated her Democratic rivals in a debate on Thursday, confronting front-runner Joe Biden on race and calling his remarks about working with segregationist senators “hurtful.”
In a breakout efficiency, the daughter of a black father from Jamaica and an Indian mom was on the heart of a number of heated exchanges in the course of the second night time of debates amongst Democrats vying for the proper to problem Republican President Donald Trump within the 2020 election.
Harris mentioned the difficulty of race was deeply private for her. She famous she was bused to highschool as a part of integration efforts in California, and he or she questioned Biden’s 1970s opposition to highschool busing.
The previous prosecutor appeared straight at Biden and demanded that he clarify himself.
“I don’t imagine you’re a racist. And I agree with you while you commit your self to the significance of discovering widespread floor,” mentioned Harris, 54, a U.S. senator from California who has ranked fourth or fifth in most nationwide polls amongst Democrats.
“However I additionally imagine – and it’s private and it was hurtful to listen to you speak in regards to the reputations of two United States senators who constructed their reputations and profession on the segregation of race on this nation.”
Biden, who was on the defensive all through the night time, has confronted heavy criticism for his current feedback that he labored many years in the past with two Southern segregationist senators as a solution to get issues carried out within the U.S. Senate.
He appeared shaken by the assault, however defended his file on civil rights and mentioned his remarks had been mischaracterized as reward for racists.
“If we need to have this marketing campaign litigated on who helps civil rights and whether or not I did or not, I’m completely satisfied to do this,” he mentioned, noting he had solely opposed busing for varsity integration ordered by the federal authorities, not by native governments.
“All the pieces I’ve carried out in my profession, I ran due to civil rights and proceed to assume we now have to make basic adjustments,” he mentioned.
He added a dig at Harris, noting he had been a public defender and “didn’t grow to be a prosecutor.”
One of many lesser-known candidates, U.S. Consultant Eric Swalwell, 38, additionally took a swing at Biden, sharply reminding voters of Biden’s age and urging the 76-year-old to move the torch to youthful candidates.
“I used to be 6 years outdated when a presidential candidate got here to the California Democratic conference and mentioned it’s time to move the torch to a brand new technology of Individuals,” Swalwell mentioned. “That candidate was then-Senator Joe Biden.”
“He was proper when he mentioned that 32 years in the past. He’s nonetheless proper immediately,” Swalwell mentioned.
Biden responded: “I’m nonetheless holding onto that torch. I need to make it clear.”
In a Democratic contest the place racial points have figured prominently, Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, additionally confronted pointed questions on accusations of racism inside his metropolis’s predominantly white police power after a deadly police capturing of a black man.
GOING AFTER TRUMP
The contenders regularly attacked Trump and sharply disagreed over one of the best ways to spice up entry to healthcare insurance coverage protection. Biden and the candidate operating second in polls amongst Democrats, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, turned their fireplace on Trump repeatedly.
“The American folks perceive that Trump is a phony, that Trump is a pathological liar and a racist and that he lied to the American folks throughout his marketing campaign,” mentioned Sanders, who was relegated to the sidelines for a lot of the night time.
Biden, the previous vice chairman making his third run for the White Home, mentioned Trump’s tax cuts for the rich and different financial insurance policies have been growing financial inequality in america.
“Donald Trump has put us in a horrible state of affairs. We do have huge earnings inequality,” Biden mentioned. “The one factor I agree on is we will make huge cuts within the $1.6 trillion in tax loopholes on the market, and I’d be going about eliminating Donald Trump’s tax cuts for the rich.”
The controversy additionally included U.S. Senators Michael Bennet and Kirsten Gillibrand, former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, self-help guru Marianne Williamson and entrepreneur Andrew Yang. All six are polling nationally round 1% or much less.
Just like the Democrats who debated on Wednesday, the contenders disagreed on one of the best ways to increase healthcare protection. Requested who would again a plan that eradicated personal insurance coverage, solely Sanders and Harris raised their fingers.
When requested if their administrations would help protecting healthcare for immigrants in america illegally, all 10 candidates on the stage raised their fingers.
Trump, who has made cracking down on unlawful immigration a signature coverage of his presidency, pounced through Twitter though he’s in Japan for the G20 summit.
“All Democrats simply raised their fingers for giving tens of millions of unlawful aliens limitless healthcare. How about caring for American Residents first!? That’s the top of that race!” the Republican tweeted.
Trump marketing campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh mentioned the Democrats’ pledge was “reckless and a slap within the face to the tens of millions of Individuals who’ve labored laborious and nonetheless fear about affording medical insurance.”
“That is the most important bombshell to return out of the primary Democrat debate, and it will likely be one which reverberates till Election Day subsequent yr,” he informed Reuters.
Reporting by James Oliphant and Ginger Gibson; Extra reporting by Doina Chiacu; Writing by John Whitesides; Modifying by Colleen Jenkins, Kieran Murray, Peter Cooney and Jonathan Oatis