California Senator Kamala Harris and former Vice President Joe Biden sparred on Thursday in the second night of the first Democratic presidential debate. Harris criticized Biden’s recent comments about working with segregationists in the Senate and for his opposition to busing students in an effort to integrate schools in the 1970s.
Sen. Kamala Harris: “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 part of the second class to integrate her public schools, and she was bussed to school every day. And that little girl was me.”
After Biden accused Harris of mischaracterizing his record, she directly asked him about his opposition to busing.
Sen. Kamala Harris: “Vice President Biden, do you agree today—do you agree today that you were wrong to oppose busing in America then?”
Joe Biden: “No.”
Sen. Kamala Harris: “Do you agree?”
Joe Biden: “I did not oppose busing in America. What I opposed is busing ordered by the Department of Education. That’s what I opposed.”
But that is not what Biden said in 1975, telling a Delaware newspaper, “I oppose busing. It’s an asinine concept, the utility of which has never been proven to me. I’ve gotten to the point where I think our only recourse to eliminate busing may be a constitutional amendment.” We will have more on the debate after headlines.