DETROIT, Michigan — Former vice president Joe Biden and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) attacked each other’s records on criminal justice reform at the second Democratic debate in Detroit on Wednesday night.
Booker attacked Biden, as he has done in the past, for taking a tough approach to crime for decades — only to reverse himself during the 2020 Democratic presidential primary. (He called Biden the “architect of a failed system” earlier in July).
Biden responded with an attack that he, too, has used before, claiming that Booker had adopted a harsh approach to criminal justice as mayor of Newark, without achieving results. (“Thousands and thousands of people — predominantly African American — were stopped by Booker’s force without legal basis,” a Biden campaign official had said.)
Booker responded on the debate stage by noting that if Biden wanted to compare records — “and frankly, I am shocked that you do,” he added, drawing applause — he would lose the argument, especially given his role in supporting the controversial Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994.
“You were calling it the Biden crime bill until 2015,” Booker said (a claim that is true; Biden continued taking credit for the law as recently as 2016).
Biden responded: “There was nothing done for the entire eight years that he was mayor.” He cited Booker’s “zero tolerance policy” as mayor (also true), adding that police had practiced the controversial “stop-and-frisk” method (also true).
Booker countered: “There’s a saying in my community that you’re dipping into the Kool-Aid and you don’t even know the flavor. You need to come to the city and see the reforms we put in place.”
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.