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Biden speaks at a Democratic National Committee event in Atlanta on June 6, 2019. Photo: Dustin Chambers/Getty Images

Joe Biden's praise for segregationist senators showed starkly his vital job in next week's opening debate: Show he's a man of these times, not a man out of time.

Why it matters: Nothing worries Biden advisers more than public reminders that he's a throwback to a bygone era younger Democrats want to erase.

  • "He has to focus on where we are going rather than where he has been," a Biden friend said. "He knows this, and he knows he has to do it during the debate in two- and three-minute bites."
  • During remarks at two fundraisers in Maryland last night, Biden made no apology for saying Tuesday that the Senate "got things done" with "civility" even with segregationists with whom he disagreed, AP reports.

The state of play: Other 2020 Dems harshly condemned Biden's invocation of long-dead segregationist senators James Eastland of Mississippi and Herman Talmadge of Georgia to argue that Washington functioned more smoothly back then.

What's new: Last night in Chevy Chase, Md., Biden tried to revise and extend those remarks, saying he "detested" what the two Democrats "stood for in terms of segregation."

  • Praising the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, Biden said: "[W]e had to put up with the likes of like Jim Eastland and Hermy Talmadge and all those segregationists."
  • "[W]e were able to beat them on everything they stood for," Biden continued, according to a pool report by Maggie Severns of Politico. "We, in fact, detested what they stood for in terms of segregation and all the rest."

What Biden's thinking: He will keep pounding away on the theme that he alone has the experience and broad appeal to beat Trump.

  • Biden adviser Anita Dunn said on MSNBC: "He didn't praise them, he didn't praise their positions, he certainly didn't endorse their positions. It's a story he's told many times. And the point of the story is that you have to be able to work with people, even if they hold positions repugnant to you, in order to make some progress."

Go deeper ... What they're saying: Biden's race backlash

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Go deeper

45 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Biden's latest executive order: Buy American

President Joe R. Biden speaks about the economy before signing executive orders in the State Dining Room at the White House on Friday, Jan 22, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

President Joe Biden will continue his flurry of executive orders on Monday, signing a new directive to require the federal government to “buy American” for products and services.

Why it matters: The executive action is yet another attempt by Biden to accomplish goals administratively without waiting for the backing of Congress. The new order echoes Biden's $400 billion campaign pledge to increase government purchases of American goods.

Tech digs in for long domestic terror fight

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

With domestic extremist networks scrambling to regroup online, experts fear the next attack could come from a radicalized individual — much harder than coordinated mass events for law enforcement and platforms to detect or deter.

The big picture: Companies like Facebook and Twitter stepped up enforcement and their conversations with law enforcement ahead of Inauguration Day. But they'll be tested as the threat rises that impatient lone-wolf attackers will lash out.

The pandemic could be worsening childhood obesity

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The 10-month long school closures and the coronavirus pandemic are expected to have a big impact on childhood obesity rates.

Why it matters: About one in five children are obese in the U.S. — an all-time high — with worsening obesity rates across income and racial and ethnic groups, data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey show.