Joe Biden Defends Race Record Friday After Kamala Harris’ Takedown

Joe Biden was doing damage control Friday, playing up his civil rights bona fides in an attempt to contain the fallout from Kamala Harris’ scathing attack on his race record during Thursday’s Democratic presidential debate.

Biden has come under fire in the past week for invoking the names of two segregationist senators as examples of working across the aisle — criticism Harris refused to let slide Thursday, calling Biden out for his “hurtful” remarks and slamming his 1970s stances on the practice of busing to integrate schools.

Harris, a black senator from California, drew on her personal experience with busing during Thursday’s clash, saying, “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. And that little girl was me.”

Biden, who has enjoyed a wealth of support from the black community thus far, was on the defensive Friday in Chicago. He said he “never, ever, ever opposed voluntary busing” — which he said impacted Harris’ life. And he said, “I fought my heart out to ensure that civil rights and voting rights, equal rights, are enforced everywhere.”

Republican strategist Ford O’Connell said if there was ever a time for Biden to play the Obama card, it should have been during the debate.

Biden should have said, “‘Do you think Barack Obama would have put a racist on the ticket?’” O’Connell told the Herald. “He could have been done with that answer in one second.”

“I don’t know whether or not this is going to erode his support with the African American community,” O’Connell said. “If it does, he’s going to be in serious trouble.”

Both O’Connell and former Mitt Romney adviser Ryan Williams said Biden’s debate performance exposed how rusty he was — which doesn’t bode well both for securing the Democratic nomination or for the perception of how well Biden could take on President Trump.

Read more from Lisa Kashinsky at the Boston Herald

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