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

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Updated 54 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Politics: Senate Democrats block vote on McConnell's targeted COVID relief bill McConnell urges White House not to strike stimulus deal before election.
  2. Economy: Why the stimulus delay isn't a crisis (yet).
  3. Health: Studies show drop in COVID death rate — The next wave is gaining steam — The overwhelming aftershocks of the pandemic.
  4. Education: Schools haven't become hotspots — San Francisco public schools likely won't reopen before the end of the year.

Senate Democrats block vote on McConnell's targeted COVID relief bill

Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

Senate Democrats on Wednesday blocked a vote on Republicans' $500 billion targeted COVID-19 relief bill, a far less comprehensive package than the $1.8 trillion+ deal currently being negotiated between the Trump administration and House Democrats.

Why it matters: There's little appetite in the Senate for a stimulus bill with a price tag as large as what President Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have been calling for. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-Ky.) "skinny" proposal was mostly seen as a political maneuver, as it had little chance of making it out of the Senate.

The hazy line between politics and influence campaigns

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The recent firestorm over the New York Post’s publication of stories relying on data from a hard drive allegedly belonging to Hunter Biden shows the increasingly hazy line between domestic political “dirty tricks” and a foreign-sponsored disinformation operation.

Why it matters: This haziness could give determined actors cover to conduct influence operations aimed at undermining U.S. democracy through channels that just look like old-fashioned hard-nosed politics.