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Screenshot via MSNBC

Sen. Kamala Harris confronted former Vice President Joe Biden about his comments about working with segregationist senators and opposing federally-mandated busing in the 1970s — drawing from her own personal experience as being "part of the second class to integrate her public schools."

Why it matters: Harris took control of the night by not waiting for the NBC moderators to bring up segregation. She addressed Biden directly, repeatedly going over her time. She positioned herself as a product of history, but future-oriented and raring to change things in a way that Biden isn't.

  • A big question is who voters can picture onstage with President Trump. Harris was tough but also showed emotion, per Axios' Alayna Treene.

The video of the exchange:

"I do not believe you are a racist and I agree with you when you commit yourself to the importance of finding common ground. But I also believe — and it's personal and it was hurtful to hear you talk about the reputations of two United States senators who built their reputations and career on the segregation of race in this country. It was not only that, but you also worked with them to oppose busing. There was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public schools, and she was bused to school every day. That little girl was me. So I will tell you that on this subject, it cannot be an intellectual debate among Democrats. We have to take it seriously. We have to act swiftly."

Biden fumbled his response, not pausing to acknowledge her life experience, and tapping out before he was cut off:

It's a mischaracterization of my position across the board. I did not praise racists. The fact is that, in terms of busing, the busing, I never — you would have been able to go to school the same exact way because it was a local decision made by your city council. ...
I supported the ERA from the very beginning. I'm the guy that extended the Voting Rights Act for 25 years. ... I've also argued very strongly that we, in fact, deal with the notion of denying people access to the ballot box. I agree that everybody, once they, in fact — anyway, my time is up. I'm sorry.

How it's playing ... Stephen Colbert on a special live edition of CBS' "The Late Show": "I believe in global warming, because Kamala Harris was on fire."

  • Joy Reid on MSNBC's postgame: "She destabilized him on the race question."
  • Drudge Report: "BIDEN STAMMERS AS KAMALA EATS HIM ALIVE!"
A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.

Go deeper: Biden's race backlash

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Go deeper

FBI report likely to show record increase in murders in 2020

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

If the FBI data released next week shows what's expected — that 2020 saw the highest single-year spike in U.S. murders in at least six decades — experts say the sudden job losses, fears and other jolts to society at the start of COVID-19 will likely have been the overwhelming drivers.

Why it matters: Many Democrats already feared that rising crime could hurt their party in the 2022 midterms.

2 mins ago - Health

Some experts see signs of hope as COVID cases fall

Expand chart
Data: N.Y. Times; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

New coronavirus cases are continuing to decline, and some experts are cautiously optimistic that the virus will continue to wane even into the fall and winter.

The big picture: The next few months are highly uncertain, and some localized outbreaks are all but guaranteed. But the U.S. is at least moving in the right direction again.

Air quality alerts issued as California fires threaten more sequoias

The Windy Fire blazes through the Long Meadow Grove of giant sequoia trees near the Trail of 100 Giants in Sequoia National Forest, near California Hot Springs, on Tuesday. Photo: David McNew/Getty Images

Two wildfires were threatening California's sequoia trees over overnight — hours after authorities issued fresh evacuation orders and warnings, along with air quality alerts.

The big picture: Air quality alerts were issued Wednesday for the Bay Area and the San Joaquin Valley as smoke from the Windy and KNP Complex fires resulted in hazy, "ash-filled" skies from Fresno to Tulare, the Los Angeles Times notes.

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