Kamala Harris to Joe Biden: 'I Don't Believe You Are a Racist'
“I do not believe you are a racist,” Kamala Harris said to Joe Biden, saying she was personally hurt by his recent comments in support of segregationist senators. #DemDebate2
The Democrats’ second presidential debate in two nights features most of the 2020 class’ strongest competitors — according to early polling, at least — none with more to lose than former Vice President Joe Biden, who has party establishment backing but faces an increasingly restive and liberal base.
The second 10 candidates face each other and the nation Thursday night in a prime-time confrontation sure to underscore differences along lines of race, gender, generation and ideology that are starting to shape the party’s winding search for a nominee to take on President Donald Trump.
Biden, who is 76, will stand at center stage, shoulder-to-shoulder with the fellow septuagenarian who is his ideological opposite: Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. The 77-year-old self-described democratic socialist has pulled his party to the left on key issues, calling for a political revolution that would transform the private health care system into a government-financed one and mandate a redistribution of wealth.
Sanders’ appeal relies on emotion, often anger. Biden preaches pragmatism and relative moderation.
And they represent only two of ten views on the stage Thursday night.
The showdown takes place in Florida, a general election battleground that could well determine whether Trump wins a second term next year. In Florida, as in the nation more broadly, immigration has defined much of the political debate.
This week several Democrats visited a facility where hundreds of immigrant children are being held near the debate site.
Thursday night’s participants had the benefit of having seen 10 other Democrats the previous night. More than 15 million people watched the first contest, according to Nielsen Fast National Data. The viewership exceeded every presidential primary debate in the 2008 and 2012 elections.
Together, the debates are the first high-profile step in a presidential primary process expected to stretch deep into next year.
The leading candidates, including Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren who debated Wednesday night, have shown little interest in attacking their Democratic brethren directly at the start of a marathon campaign. But an effort to undermine either Biden or Sanders, from any number of directions, wouldn’t be a shock.
South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg and California Sen. Kamala Harris are among the better known candidates in the next tier. Also on stage: Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Michael Bennet of Colorado, former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, New York businessman Andrew Yang, California Rep. Eric Swalwell and author and social activist Marianne Williamson.
If nothing else, Thursday’s slate highlights the diversity of the Democratic Party’s 2020 class.
Buttigieg, a 37-year-old gay former military officer, is four decades younger than Sanders, and has been framing his candidacy as a call for generational change in his party. Harris is the only African American woman to qualify for the presidential debate stage. Any of the three women featured Thursday night would be the first ever elected president.
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