Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with the Axios AM and PM newsletters. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to the Axios Closer newsletter for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios Pro Rata

Dive into the world of dealmakers across VC, PE and M&A with Axios Pro Rata. Delivered daily to your inbox by Dan Primack and Kia Kokalitcheva.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with the Axios Sports newsletter. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Des Moines newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Tampa Bay newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Nashville news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Nashville newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Columbus news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Columbus newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Dallas news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Dallas newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Austin news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Austin newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Atlanta news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Atlanta newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Philadelphia news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Philadelphia newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Chicago news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Chicago newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top DC news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios DC newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

The overwhelming strategy may have been “Kill Biden” for the second night of CNN’s Democratic debates, but the former vice president came far more prepared to fend off his critics on Wednesday night than he was in June.

The big picture: Kamala Harris picked up right where she left off at last month's debates, attacking Biden early and often for upholding the status quo with his health care plan — pivoting back to Biden even when asked to respond to comments made by other candidates. But it was clear that Biden did his homework, deflecting attacks with moderate success from Harris, Sens. Cory Booker and Kirsten Gillibrand, former HUD Secretary Julián Castro, and others who came armed with opposition research.

  • A Biden adviser tells Axios' Mike Allen: "[I]t was everybody versus Biden ... Never threw a first punch, but didn’t let himself be a punching bag."
  • Jimmy Kimmel: "It was 'Joe Versus the Volcano.'"
Highlights

Booker arguably surpassed Harris as Biden's primary antagonist on Wednesday night, attacking the former vice president for refusing to condemn the high number of deportations carried out under the Obama administration: "You invoke President Obama more than anybody in this campaign. You can't do it when it's convenient and dodge it when it's not."

  • Castro also went after Biden on immigration, after Biden said the former HUD secretary never mentioned anything about decriminalizing illegal border crossings while he served in the Obama administration: "First of all, Mr. Vice President, it looks like one of us has learned the lessons of the past, and one of us hasn't."
  • Harris and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand attacked Biden over women's rights. Gillibrand claimed Biden had written in a 1981 op-ed that women working outside the home would cause "deterioration of family." Biden responded by citing Gillibrand's past praise and quipping: "I don't know what's happened, except you're running for president." Harris used his response to attack Biden's flip-flop on support for the Hyde Amendment.

Harris, having propelled herself to join the frontrunners after breaking out at the last debate, found herself staring down attacks from an energized Biden, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and Sen. Michael Bennet over the details of her health care plan, which she had some trouble defending. As Axios' Alexi McCammond points out from Detroit, Harris' top-dog status led to attacks on her from every side of the stage last night, meaning more scrutiny of her record from both the center and the left.

  • Gabbard and Biden also went after Harris for her criminal justice record as a prosecutor, often viewed as a vulnerability in the Democratic field. Harris responded by saying she took pride in her work and the difficult decisions she made.

In a departure from the first night, Wednesday's debate saw two instances of protestors interrupting candidates. The first disruption came from a group directing "Fire Pantaleo" chants at New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, referring to the police officer who killed Eric Garner with a chokehold in 2014. Earlier this month, the Justice Department ended its investigation of Pantaleo without bringing charges.

  • The second disruption came from Movimiento Cosecha, an immigrant advocacy group that chanted "3 million deportations" at Biden in reference to the Obama administration's immigration policies.

Single-issue candidates Jay Inslee and Andrew Yang both had strong nights answering questions through the lens of their respective niches. Inslee, who has centered his campaign on climate change, attacked moderate approaches to weaning the U.S. economy off fossil fuels: "We can not work this out. The time is up. Our house is on fire. We have to stop using coal in 10 years, and we need a president to do it or it won't get done."

  • Yang, who has promoted universal basic income as a solution to automation, opened the debate with a laugh line about being the opposite of Donald Trump: "An Asian man who likes math." Throughout his answers, he consistently returned to the theme of the "value of work" and how we must "change the measurements for the 21st century economy around our own well-being."

The bottom line: With so many people attacking Biden this round, it's unclear if any one candidate will reap the benefit that Harris did after the first debate.

  • That's in stark contrast to the previous night, when Warren and Bernie Sanders refused to take the bait from the moderators to go after each other, per Axios' Alayna Treene.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Hope King, author of Closer
Updated 37 mins ago - Economy & Business

Peloton pumps its brakes

Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

Peloton’s popularity is falling as swiftly as it shot up.

Why it matters: Not all pandemic habits stick around. Peloton's trajectory over the past two years exemplifies how challenging it's been for companies to gauge shifts in consumer demand — particularly in sectors heavily altered by the pandemic.

Mitch McConnell's remarks on Black voters raise ire

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell during a Capitol Hill news conference earlier this year. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has been widely criticized for comments he made this week about Black American voters.

Driving the news: When asked by a reporter Wednesday about concerns among voters of color, McConnell said "the concern is misplaced, because if you look at the statistics, Black American voters are voting in just as high a percentage as Americans."

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Trump’s friends worry legal pick for N.Y. case lacks experience

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

Close associates and advisers to Donald Trump tell Axios they're concerned by his decision to use a relatively inexperienced New Jersey attorney, Alina Habba, in his high-stakes legal fight against New York Attorney General Letitia James.

Why it matters: A former president typically has access to the country's most prestigious experts, including lawyers. Trump has turned to the former general counsel for a parking garage company, who works from a small law office near his Bedminster, N.J., country club.