Jill Biden on Monday evening accused Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) of trying to paint former Vice President Joe Biden as a “racist” during the first presidential debate, adding that she believes the American people did not “buy it.”
In an interview with CNN’s Chris Cuomo, Jill Biden said the biggest surprise of the campaign season was the debate, especially Harris’s attacks on her husband.
“Kamala was a little bit of a surprise,” she said, echoing her husband’s remarks about the California senator. Biden told Cuomo that he was not prepared for Harris to come at him as hard as she did.
“I wasn’t prepared for the person coming at me the way she came at me,” he said.
Harris, taking advantage of the opening Biden gave her when Biden stubbornly refused to walk back his comments about segregationists or apologize before the debate, seized her moment at the debate to call out Biden’s remarks about segregationist senators and opposition to busing.
“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 said at the debate. “But I also believe, and it’s personal… 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.”
Harris then delivered her prepared line that squarely landed: “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.”
Jill Biden said she thought Harris was trying to imply that her husband is “racist” even though Harris said she did not believe Biden is “racist.”
“I mean, the one thing you cannot say about Joe is that he’s a racist,” Jill Biden said. “I mean, he got into politics because of his commitment to civil rights. And then to be elected with Barack Obama, and then someone is saying, you know, you’re a racist?”
After Cuomo reminded Biden that Harris said she did not think Biden is racist, Jill Biden said: “I know, but as soon as I heard those words, I thought, ‘uh oh, what’s coming next.’”
“The American people know Joe Biden. They know his values. They know what he stands for. And they didn’t buy it,” she continued.
Joe Biden, in a carefully worded statement, finally apologized over the weekend in South Carolina for giving off the impression that he was praising segregationist senators.
“Was I wrong a few weeks ago to somehow give the impression to people that I was praising those men who I successfully opposed, time and again? Well, yes, I was, and I regret it. And I’m sorry for any of the pain or misconception they may have caused anybody,” Biden said. “Should that misstep define 50 years of my record for fighting for civil rights, racial justice in this country? I hope not.”