MIAMI – Joseph R. Biden Jr. was repeatedly on the defensive in the democratic debate on Thursday. It was both about his record and his personal views, with the hottest moment of the night and the most important campaign yet to come when Senator Kamala Harris confronted him with his comments on working with segregationists in the Senate.
Mr. Biden, the Democratic leader who participated in his first major debate in seven years, remained temporarily standing and wiggling, but also vigorously pressed for criticism of his record. The attacks included a call to the 76-year-old former vice president to pass on Torch to a younger generation, questions about his positions on immigration and abortion, and his enthusiasm for working with Republicans.
"There was a little girl in California who was part of the second grade to integrate her public schools, and she was taken to school by bus every day. Said Mrs. Harris. "And this little girl was me."
Mr. Biden responded indignantly, calling her attacks "a misrecognition of my position down the line" – and then responded to the fire on Mrs. Harris, who was criticized from the left for her record as prosecutor in California.
"If We Want It I'm glad to do so, so this campaign will be conducted on who supports civil rights and whether I did or not," he retorted. "I was a public defender, I did not Prosecutor. "
[Readouranalysis: Harris makes the case that Biden should pass the torch to her .
The back and forth was the most tense moment in the first democratic Debates divided between Wednesday and Thursday with 10 candidates each night to serve the broad field of the party, highlighting both the vulnerability of Mr Biden and the urgency his rivals feel about his candidacy Seeking voters who see him primarily as Barack Obama's vice president The dispute also entered the Democratic debate on the nomination Suggest a moderate party that could appeal to some of the white voters who voted for Mr. Trump but also carry baggage from an earlier political era? Or would they win if they motivate younger and non-white voters with a candidate like Ms. Harris, a Californian senator whose father is black and whose mother is of Indian descent?
wife. The Harris offensive was also an attempt to boost their campaign, which started promisingly in January but eased off as she grappled with the question of whether she ran as a progressive or as an appeal to the moderate wing of her party.
Her campaign has taken months to privately consume with Mr. Biden, whose initial benefit in the polls is partly due to his strong support from African Americans – voices that Ms. Harris needs to win to secure the nomination. But it is Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts who has gained momentum lately.
Mr. Biden did not appear to be as unstable as some recent public appearances, but he may not have completely convinced the Democrats that as their candidate he would be able to fend off Mr. Trump's terrible attacks next year , Unlike some other candidates, he did not try to interfere in the conversation.
But he repeatedly recalled his service to Mr. Obama, whom he showered with praise. And he expressed his sense of humor when Californian MP Eric Swalwell invited him to produce a new generation of Democrats.
"I'm still holding on to this torch," Mr. Biden replied with a smile.
] The former vice president has already faced a handful of other challenges, some of which are alleged to have touched women inappropriately before he officially entered the race. And he has proven to be resilient, with many simple voters less concerned about his transgressions than liberal activists.
However, these controversies were not broadcast on millions of Americans on live television.
It was not about affairs Only because of his race Mr. Biden was exposed to a biting attack. Rivals on both the left and middle sides rejected Biden's narrative of his political career as a case study in permanent leadership, repeatedly challenging the most basic set of candidacies – that he is uniquely well suited to uniting the country and making progress achieve a sclerotic Washington.
When Mr. Biden made an honorable mention of his own capacity as a convention negotiator and boasted that he had persuaded a tax increase from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, he earned a swift reprimand from a colleague, Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado.
"The deal he talked to Mitch McConnell was a complete victory for the Tea Party," Bennet said, arguing that Mr. Biden had made stupid concessions to Republicans without much consideration. "That was a lot for Mitch McConnell. It was a terrible business for America.
Without condemning Mr. Biden by name, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York also rejected his business ethos, pointing out his story of taking more conservative positions on abortion rights – including his earlier support for a ban on federal funding for abortion, known as the Hyde change. Mr Biden gave up his support for the measure only this month.
"When the door is closed, negotiations are held, there are talks about women's rights, and compromises have been made on our backs," said Ms. Gillibrand. "That's how we came to Hyde – the way the Hyde novella was created – a compromise between the leaders of both parties."
It was, however, Mrs. Harris who did the most to promote her candidacy: At one point in time, she was Google's top trend theme in the country.
In addition to her confrontation with Mr. Biden, she repeatedly scolded Mr. Trump, gently criticized Mr. Obama for his deportation policy, and generally reminded Democrats why they were so fascinated by their candidacy.
Like Mrs. Warren in the first debate on Wednesday, Mrs. Harris also inspired the Republicans by raising her hand to express her support for the elimination of private health care in America To explain their views on the subject she has struggled to deal with in the past
If Mr. Biden spent much of the debate on defense, then e also the rising left wing of the Democratic Party as a group of moderates under the leadership of Mr Biden doubt – and repeated remarks that were alarming Democrat s' embrace of extreme leftist ideas that were developed by Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
Mr. Biden rejected Mr. Sanders' call for a single-payer health care system and said it would be more pragmatic to progressively expand coverage. Two lesser-known rivals, Mr. Bennet and former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, warned voters that Mr. Sanders and others who supported his ideology could harm the Democratic Party and the country's economy ,
"If we do not clearly define that we are not socialists," explained Hickenlooper. The Republicans will do our best to attack us and call us socialists.
And Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind., Argued reservations about the creation of new universal tuition fees that might indicate that wealthy students are being needlessly supported financially.
Yet, Mr. Sanders had plenty of company on stage Democrats who were in line with their vision for health care and much more, including Dr. Harris and Ms. Gillibrand, both of whom raised their hands to advocate the replacement of private care with a "Medicare for All" scheme.
Mr. Sanders, for his part, defended his agenda with open enthusiasm for Usiasmus, saying in his first comments of the night that voters demanded "real change" from their government and suggested naming them unfriendly, such as Mr. Biden, scant half
American, Mr. Sanders said, would have deserved it A president, de r "get up and tell insurance companies and drug companies that their days are over, that health care is a human right."
However, he was not aiming at the former vice president and his familiar ceremonies. The enthusiastic applause of the audience was not as great as in many lines by Mrs. Harris.
Alongside Mr Biden and Mr Sanders, a third prominent candidate, Mr Buttigieg, spent a significant part of the debate with it, and to declare defense of its record in the government. In the last two weeks, Buttigieg had quickly become the favorite of educated liberal voters after a white policeman in South Bend shot and killed a black man.
Mr. Buttigieg acknowledged in a penitent statement that he had not made enough changes in the police department to avert similar incidents and gain the confidence of the African American community there. Several rivals plunged and Mr. Hickenlooper regarded Mr. Buttigieg as a backlog in prosecuting police reform.
"We obviously are not here yet," Mr. Buttigieg admitted. "I take responsibility because I have the say."
Similar to the debate on Wednesday, almost every candidate has represented a liberal position on immigration and expressed support for the decriminalization of illegal immigration.
Mr. Biden's position on the subject was not clear: he shook hands with most of the other candidates when they were asked if they would support illegal immigration as a civil offense.
However, when asked about the subject, he was quite simple. He emphasized his efforts as Vice President to send money to the Central American countries, from which many of the migrants come, and despised Mr. Trump's reversal of this policy.
"We are all talking about these things," he said. "I did it, I did it."
Asked if he would support the deportation of undocumented immigrants who have not committed any other offenses, Mr Biden allowed himself some room.
"This person should not be at the center of deportation," he said, but some other candidates, including Ms. Harris, said flatly that they would not expel such migrants.
However, when the candidates were asked if they were undocumented immigrants Mr Biden shook hands
To the surprise of no one, President Trump cast a glance at the democratic debate between meetings with world leaders in Osaka, Japan, and to the surprise of just about none, he admitted that he was unimpressed
Sign up for our Politics Newsletter and participate in the talks around the Presidential Race 2020.]  Mr. Trump apparently came Shortly before the move to Chancellor Angela Merkel past a television. "All Democrats have only raised their hands because they have millions of illegal aliens Have unlimited medical care, "he wrote (or perhaps an adjutant) quickly on his Twitter account. "How about first looking after American citizens? This is the end of this race! Mr Biden was not the only candidate to be attacked, and two inconspicuous candidates were equally clear in their criticism of Mr. Sanders.
[ We tracked down the Democrats of 2020 and did the same Questions asked. Watch as they respond.
Mr. Hickenlooper described Mr. Sanders proposal as "Medicare for All" as unrealistic, and Mr. Bennet noted that Mr. Sanders was not in his home state "Vermont rejected Medicare for everyone," said Mr. Bennet Sanders, rejecting the attacks by stating that the polls show he is doing well in a general election and that the best way is To defeat Mr. Trump was to expose his populist rhetoric as hollow – by providing the voters with the real article.