Senator Kamala Harris was the breakout candidate of the second Democratic primary debate on Thursday night, successfully taking on frontrunner Joe Biden on the issue of busing and landing several other striking answers that drew loud rounds of applause from the audience.
Said Harris, taking on 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, I also believe—and it’s personal. And I—I was actually very—it was hurtful to hear you talk about the reputations of two United States senators who built their reputations and career on segregation of race in this country. And it was not only that, but you also worked with them to oppose bussing. And you know, there was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public schools and she was bussed to school every day and that little girl was me. So, I will tell you that on this subject, it cannot be an intellectual debate among democrats. We have to take it seriously. We have to act swiftly. As attorney general of California, I was very proud to put in place a—a requirement that all my special agents would wear body cameras and keep those cameras on.”
Replied Biden: “That’s a mischaracterization of my position across the board. I did not praise racists. That is not true, number one. Number two, if we want to have this campaign litigated on who supports civil rights and whether I did or not, I’m happy to do that. I was a public defender. I didn’t become a prosecutor. I came out and I left a good law firm to become a public defender when in fact — when in fact my city was in flames because of the—the assassination of Dr. King, number one. Now, number two, as the U.S.—as—excuse me—as the vice president of the United States, I worked with a man who in fact, we worked very hard to see to it we dealt with these issues in a major, major way. The fact is that in terms of bussing, the bussing, I never—you would’ve been able to go to school the same exact 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 not be—we should be breaking down these lines. But—so, the bottom line here is, look, everything I have done in my career—I ran because of civil rights. I continue to think we have to make fundamental changes in civil rights. And those civil rights, by the way, include not just African Americans, but the LGBT community. They don’t—”
Replied Harris: “But, Vice President Biden do you agree today—do you agree today that you were wrong to oppose bussing in America then?”
Replied Biden: “I did not oppose bussing in America. What I opposed is bussing ordered by the Department of Education. That’s what I opposed. I did not oppose—
Harris: “Well, there was a failure of—of states to—to integrate—”
Biden: “No, but—”
Harris: “Public schools in America. I was part of the second class to integrate, Berkley, California Public Schools almost two decades after Brown v. Board of Education. “
Biden: “Because your city council made that decision. It was a local decision.”
Harris: “So, that’s where the federal government must step in.”
Biden: “The—the federal government must—”
Harris: “That’s why we have the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act. That’s why we need to pass the Equality Act. That’s why we need to pass the ERA because there are—
Mayor Pete Buttigieg, making history as the first openly gay man to ever participate in a presidential debate, was asked directly about the firing squad he faced in South Bend last week from black voters over the fatal shooting of a man by a police officer, and the lack of diversity in the police force.
Vox reported: ‘His big challenge came when host Rachel Maddow asked him point-blank about the ongoing lack of minority representation on South Bend’s police force. Most politicians, notable for large egos and an inability to admit error (cough Biden cough), would have spun it, so it was striking that Buttigieg began his answer with a simple confession: “I couldn’t get it done.”‘
Here are more highlights:
Here are the Google trends.
And Stephen Colbert did another excellent wrap-up of the night.
What were your thoughts after the debate?