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Joe Biden approaches Kamala Harris during a commercial break. Photo: Lucas Jackson/Reuters

The second Democratic primary debate showed former Vice President Joe Biden's long career has its liabilities.

The big picture: The pile-on covered everything from his Senate years (Kirsten Gillibrand attacking him for a 1981 op-ed about "deterioration of the family") to his years as President Obama's vice president (Bill de Blasio on deportations) to his moderation (Kamala Harris on his health care plan, Jay Inslee on his climate plan).

Biden had to step back from Obama:

  • He suggested that he wouldn't continue deportations at Obama's level ("Absolutely not") and said he wouldn't rejoin the Trans-Pacific Partnership in its previous form ("I'd renegotiate").
  • He's rethinking his Senate record, too. And sometimes it's awkward. Biden has already reversed his previous support for the Hyde amendment, which bans the use of federal funds to pay for abortion, but this time he claimed that "everybody" in Congress "has voted for the Hyde amendment at some point."
  • He acknowledged that "I did make a bad judgment, trusting the president" (zing!) in supporting George W. Bush's Iraq war.

Go deeper: 4 big takeaways from Night 2 of the second Democratic debates

Go deeper

Updated 34 mins ago - Politics & Policy

In photos: The Biden and Harris inauguration

President Biden and first lady Jill Biden watch a fireworks show on the National Mall from the Truman Balcony at the White House on Wednesday night. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Biden signed his first executive orders into law from the Oval Office on Wednesday evening after walking in a brief inaugural parade to the White House with First Lady Jill Biden and members of their family. He was inaugurated with Vice President Kamala Harris at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday morning.

Why it matters: Many of Biden's day one actions immediately reverse key Trump administration policies, including rejoining the Paris Agreement and the World Health Organization, launching a racial equity initiative and reversing the Muslim travel ban.

Republicans pledge to set aside differences and work with Biden

President Biden speaks to Sen. Mitch McConnell after being sworn in at the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. Photo: Erin Schaff-Pool/Getty Images

Several Republicans praised President Biden's calls for unity during his inaugural address on Wednesday and pledged to work together for the benefit of the American people.

Why it matters: The Democrats only have a slim majority in the Senate and Biden will likely need to work with the GOP to pass his legislative agenda.

The Biden protection plan

Joe Biden announces his first run for the presidency in June 1987. Photo: Howard L. Sachs/CNP/Getty Images

The Joe Biden who became the 46th president on Wednesday isn't the same blabbermouth who failed in 1988 and 2008.

Why it matters: Biden now heeds guidance about staying on task with speeches and no longer worries a gaffe or two will cost him an election. His staff also limits the places where he speaks freely and off the cuff. This Biden protective bubble will only tighten in the months ahead, aides tell Axios.