Aug 1, 2019

Biden steps away from Obama during the 2nd Democratic debate

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

4 big takeaways from Night 2 of the second Democratic debates

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.

Go deeperArrowAug 1, 2019

Debate night: Harris and Biden go head-to-head

Biden and Harris meet on-stage on July 31, 2019. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Former Vice President Joe Biden greeted Sen. Kamala Harris on the debate stage Wednesday with a request: "Go easy on me, kid."

For the record: 5 senior campaign officials told Axios' Alexi McCammond that Biden was "ready to throw down" on Wednesday, after Harris' took control at the first Democratic debates in Miami. Harris and Biden went head-to-head tonight on these issues:

Go deeperArrowUpdated Aug 1, 2019

Booker to Biden: "You invoke Obama more than anybody in this campaign"

Sen. Cory Booker attacked former Vice President Joe Biden for refusing to condemn the high number of deportations carried out under the Obama administration, accusing Biden of invoking Obama "when it's convenient and dodge it when it's not."

Go deeperArrowAug 1, 2019