Jill Biden said in an interview that aired Monday she was shocked by Sen. Kamala Harriss (D-California) sharp criticism of her husband, former Vice President Joe Biden, during the first-round Democratic 2020 debates last month.

The former second lady told CNN host Chris Cuomo about her feelings about the headline-grabbing moment from the debate in which Harris called out Joe Biden for his comments in which he appeared to speak favorably of two segregationist Dixiecrat Senators he worked with during his time on Capitol Hill decades prior. Biden said he is still astounded by the “civility” and level of great compromise and bipartisanship he was able to reach with those fellow lawmakers.

“I do not believe you are a racist. And I agree with you when you commit yourself to the importance of finding common ground,” Harris told Biden at the debate. “But 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.” Harris also accused Biden of opposing busing to help integrate schools during the segregation era, although Biden responded by saying he was only against the Department of Education ordering this practice.


Subscribe to our free weekly newsletter!

A week of political news in your in-box.
We find the news you need to know, so you don't have to.

Biden has cited his extensive civil rights records in denying accusations that he is a bigot, and later apologized for his remarks about the segregationists but also said they were taken out of context. The former vice president’s wife reiterated this defense when speaking to Cuomo.

“The biggest surprise I think was the debate. I think ― you know, I think probably Kamala was a little bit of a surprise,” Jill said. “You know, I think that they were looking at the past. I mean, the one thing you cannot say about Joe is that he’s a racist.”

“The American people know Joe Biden… They know his values, they know what he stands for and they didn’t buy it,” she added of Harris’s comments about her husband.

Harris was widely praised for her performance in last month’s debate and has seen an uptick in support in the polls since then. Meanwhile, Biden saw a decrease in support, especially among African-Americans, something Cuomo noted in his interview with the former vice president and his wife.

In the CNN interview, Joe also said he was not “prepared” for the way Harris criticized him during the debate.

“I’ve been surprised, not about the attacks, but I’ve been surprised at the intensity sometimes of the attacks, coming from people who know me,” Biden told Cuomo. “It doesn’t make me second-guess, but it makes me decide that ― look, this race is about the future, man. And we can go back and pick everybody’s record apart, if you want to go back 20, 30, 40 years, and take it out of context, because no one knows the context of the moment. And so it’s really easy to distort. It just surprised me a little bit, some of the stuff that’s come out, in terms of the attack lines.”

Read more about:

Get the free uPolitics mobile app for the latest political news and videos

iPhone Android

Leave a comment