During the Democratic primary debate this Wednesday, Joseph Biden, former Vice President, faced a familiar rival, Senator Kamala Harris. However, he also faced intensifying attacks from two liberal rivals, Julián Castro and Senator Cory Booker, former housing secretary, and New Jersey senator, respectively.
Mr. Biden is a leading candidate for Democrats in the upcoming presidential race, and he entered this debate trying to articulate and prove his campaign. He also tried to defend other Democratic candidates which he failed to do during the last debate against Mrs. Harris that happened in June.
While he managed to address some issues and point out critiques regarding Mrs. Harris and the other two challengers, it remains unclear whether he managed to make allies out of liberals that were reserved when it came to his campaign. Besides, another problem he had was that while the Democratic Party was eager to defeat Trump, they also shifted more to the left compared to the time when he had been in the office under Barack Obama. Furthermore, he undoubtedly gained favor for taking so many blows, but he still failed to strike an incredible performance that would help him regain control of the presidential race.
Not only did Mr. Biden have to defend his own actions, but he also had to address critique regarding the politics of Mr. Obama, notably when it comes to trade and immigration.
When it comes to ideology, the whole debate bears a striking resemblance to the previous one that happened earlier this week. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders tried to defend the issues regarding their party’s agenda and had to deflect attacks from several underdogs like John Delaney and Steve Bullock. During the second debate, Mr. Biden was under attack because of his centrist ideas and values.
Naturally, during these debates, there was a moment where candidates were able to shed some light on their campaign and general direction of the race.
In the early stages of this debate, Mr. Biden attacked Mrs. Harris for her contradiction regarding health care, and he criticized plans for private health insurance for being too expensive, and that was causing unnecessary trouble in his opinion. He also criticized her long-term plans that would last for over a decade saying that voters shouldn’t believe when someone tells them that it would get better in ten years. Finally, he used this opportunity to say that Obamacare was actually working.
However, during her first defense, Mrs. Harris said that her plan was actually better and that it wouldn’t leave ten million Americans without insurance.
The rest of the debate didn’t go smoothly either. Mr. Biden was attacked from all sides and for different subjects like immigration, trade, criminal justice, health care, women’s rights, and even war in Iraq. He managed to answer some of these questions, but he also showed impatience saying that he was being accused of things that had happened a long time ago.
Furthermore, Mr. Booker said that during the fifty-year period, there had been plenty of cases against Biden and that he wasn’t quite sure that he was a good candidate to lead the country due to so many of the contentious issues.
However, Mr. Booker wasn’t the only target, and Mrs. Harris also faced serious attacks, but she didn’t manage to stay as calm as during the previous debate. This time, it seemed that Mr. Booker was a better alternative for the front-runner.
In one of the early stages of the debate, he advised Democrats to keep focus and attention on President Trump and his Republican Party, and that their main focus should be their harsh politics regarding health and immigration. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand said at one point that set her target at Republicans saying that they were trying to take away people’s health care.
Another one of Harris-Biden duels was interrupted by Senator Michael Bennet who said that they were doing the exact same thing people discussed over fifty years ago when they introduced busing, and that schools were still segregated, and it should be something to address.
Jay Inslee, the governor of Washington, said that the main concern was still a white nationalist sitting in the White House and that they should, once again, make America a place of refuge. He also attacked Biden saying that he was probably the only person voting against the war in Iraq and said that Biden’s plans for climate change were not enough for the crisis.
One of the main topics on Wednesday was immigration. While some people tried to defend it, Biden took a stand saying that crossing the border was still illegal and that people doing it should be sent back, criticizing Mr. Castro’s idea to decriminalize illegal immigration.
This wasn’t the last attack on Biden, and he had to justify Obama’s deportation policies saying that he should pick sides whether he stood by the former president or if he would like to stand with a party that is more liberal. When he was confronted with the question of whether he was helping or if he tried to stop major deportations while he was Vice President, he said that he won’t disclose conversations he had with Mr. Obama.
Finally, Mr. Booker said that he could not praise Obama’s work at one point and neglect it at other depending on what’s more convenient.
While there were some points where Mr. Biden managed to defend himself with ease, the rest of the debate was a little uncomfortable for him. It remains to be seen what else will happen before election day. This was just one of the twelve debates that will happen before the election. The third debate will happen on September 12 and 13 with future debates happening monthly after that.