MIAMI (Reuters) – Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris confronted front-runner Joe Biden on race throughout a debate on Thursday, calling his remarks about working with segregationist senators “hurtful” and questioning his 1970s opposition to high school busing.
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 the metropolis’s predominantly white police pressure in the aftermath of a deadly police capturing of a black man.
Harris, the daughter of a black father from Jamaica and an Indian mom, was on the middle of a number of heated exchanges throughout the second evening of debates amongst Democrats vying for the best to problem Republican President Donald Trump in the November 2020 election.
Harris mentioned the difficulty of race was deeply private for her, noting she was bused to high school as lessons have been built-in in California.
She seemed straight at Biden and challenged him to clarify himself.
“I do not believe you are a racist. And I agree with you when you commit yourself to the importance of finding common ground,” mentioned Harris, 54, a U.S. senator from California.
“But I also believe – and 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.”
Biden, who has confronted heavy criticism for his current feedback saying he labored with segregationists a long time in the past to get issues performed in the U.S. Senate, defended his document on civil rights.
“It’s a mischaracterization of my position across the board: I did not praise racists. That is not true,” he mentioned. “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.”
“Everything I have done in my career, I ran because of civil rights and continue to think we have to make fundamental changes and those civil rights, by the way, include not just African-Americans, but the LGBT community,” he mentioned.
GOING AFTER TRUMP
During the debate, the contenders incessantly attacked Trump and sharply disagreed over the easiest way to spice up entry to healthcare insurance coverage protection.
One of the lesser-known candidates, U.S. Representative Eric Swalwell, 38, additionally skilled his sights on Biden, urging the 76-year-old to cross the torch to youthful candidates.
“I was 6 years old when a presidential candidate came to the California Democratic convention and said it’s time to pass the torch to a new generation of Americans,” Swalwell mentioned. “That candidate was then-Senator Joe Biden.”
“He was right when he said that 32 years ago. He is still right today,” Swalwell mentioned.
Biden responded: “I’m still holding onto that torch. I want to make it clear.”
Biden and the candidate working second in polls amongst Democrats, Bernie Sanders, turned their hearth on Trump repeatedly.
“The American people understand that Trump is a phony, that Trump is a pathological liar and a racist and that he lied to the American people during his campaign,” mentioned Sanders.
Biden, the previous vice chairman making his third run for the White House, mentioned Trump’s tax cuts for the rich and different financial insurance policies have been growing financial inequality in the United States.
“Donald Trump has put us in a horrible situation. We do have enormous income inequality,” Biden mentioned. “The one thing I agree on is we can make massive cuts in the $1.6 trillion in tax loopholes out there, and I would be going about eliminating Donald Trump’s tax cuts for the wealthy.”
The debate 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.
Like the Democrats who debated on Wednesday, the contenders disagreed on the easiest way to increase healthcare protection. Asked who would again a plan that eradicated non-public insurance coverage, solely Sanders and Harris raised their arms.
The Democrats incessantly talked over each other, shouting to get their factors throughout as a few of the lesser-known contenders tried to get observed.
“Americans don’t want to witness a food fight. They want to know how we’re going to put food on their table,” Harris mentioned at one level.
Sanders defended his big-spending plans for a Medicare-for-All healthcare plan, saying it might cut back premiums for a lot of however that some in the center class may pay extra.
“People who have health care under Medicare for all will have no premiums, no deductibles, no copayments, no out-of-pocket expenses. Yes, they will pay more in taxes, but less in healthcare for what they get,” Sanders mentioned.
Buttigieg, who as been grappling with turmoil from the aftermath of the police capturing in South Bend earlier this month, acknowledged that his police pressure lacked variety as a result of he “couldn’t get it done.”
Buttigieg mentioned the scenario across the capturing was a “mess” as a result of the officer didn’t have his physique digicam on.
(This story has been refiled to repair spelling of Buttigieg in paragraph two.)
Reporting by James Oliphant and Ginger Gibson; Additional reporting by Doina Chiacu; Writing by John Whitesides; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Peter Cooney