"My time is up," he said, to cut one of his own answers, but instead to raise awareness of a question that haunts his campaign: Did the time of his generation come and pass?
Harris & # 39; attack was breathtaking
The immediate impressions left behind after a debate are often not the way things develop a few days later. So it may be that Biden's bad night will not be as harmful as it first appeared.
It is even possible that some voters were offended by the audacity of Harris's assault on a man who had been a devoted servant of the Democratic Party for decades.
But it has been by far the most captivating and memorable moment in the 2020 campaign, leaving the ex-vice president with extremely unpleasant questions about his hopes.
Biden sat on the ropes as he was seldom in half a century of public life and turned his head in disbelief to Harris as she said, "Vice President Biden, I do not think you're a racist … "
His fight for an effective response to Harris – and his decision to invoke an argument for the rights of a state with all its disturbing racist connotations – only compounded the damage.
Biden has tried to dispel the impression that he has been left behind by a young and diverse party that has changed under him.
Not all of his accomplishments were as bad as his exchange with Harris. But debates are won and lost in the crucial moments.
New Questions on Biden's Hopes
Biden ended the night with questions as to whether he was sufficiently nimble and energetic triumph in the grueling struggle for the Democratic nomination.
His shaky performance will also cast doubt on his claim that he is the strongest activist who can take on Trump in November 2020.
The President, who has a merciless nose for political weakness, may have noticed Biden's vulnerability earlier than ever.
In recent weeks, he has described Biden as "sleepy" and bleakly commented on the state of mind of a rival.
There is no doubt that Biden has the experience required of a president, and as a former vice president, he knows exactly what burdens the Oval Office brings.
But inevitably there will be more questions about the wisdom of the nomination among Democrats now Someone who would be the oldest president ever elected.
"I think age is a very legitimate matter," said David Axelrod, who saw the tribute that the office of President can demand when he was a senior advisor to the Obama administration.
"This is the hardest task on the planet and (it is) reasonable to ask if people who are almost 80 years old when they take office are prepared for it." Debates are important, "said Axelrod, now a political commentator on CNN.
Biden Can Look for Comeback Hints in History
While it was a bad night for Biden, it could be for him not incurable hopes to realize his lifelong dream as president.
He is not the first seasoned politician to take a hammeri ng in a debate, and maybe he is just out of practice. "He has since debated his showdown with GOP. Vice President Paul Ryan did not record any comparable stakes in 2012.
In his previous presidential campaign in 2008, Biden was an outsider who threw bombs at the front runners, but now the roles are reversed and clearly he was not ready for the intensity
In many ways, Biden acted like his old boss, Obama, mixed up by Mitt Romney, as the presidents often do in their first debate on re-election. His appearance also reminded of President Ronald Reagan, who in his first debate against the Democrat Walter Mondale in the 1984 election seemed old and non-contact.
Each of these presidents licked the wounds and rebounded and won the re-election. Biden is now facing a similar mandate to put his campaign back on track in the next debate, which will be moderated by CNN at the end of next month.
He has to improve his game considerably. He was a shadow of the witty, vivacious politician who fired Zinger in his debates, which were subjected to intense scrutiny at the beginning of the 21st century.
The Loot for the Winner
Harris & # 39; s strong performance in Miami immediately made her a potential rising star of the 2020 campaign. She joins Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren , which was praised on Wednesday for their appearance in the first of the debated double headings.
Early debates are often not critical to selecting a party leader, and there remain questions about Harris' stamina.
In a CNN town hall at the start of the election campaign, for example, she stumbled upon health care and took confusing positions on "Medicare-for-All" – perhaps the central theme in the democratic race.
It will now deal with all the control that comes with an emerging campaign.
But it was the political instincts she showed when she turned to Biden and questioned his earlier positions on the race that led to this debate being remembered for years to come.
She blamed Biden for his recent comments on segregationist senators and said she had been personally injured by his position in integrating schools in the 1970s.
"There was a little girl in California who was part of second grade to integrate him into public schools and she was with buses to school every day," Harris said.
"And that little girl was I."
Biden beats back with prosecutor's push
Biden, financially stunned, rightly protested that he has a strong record in terms of civil rights – and said that the local authorities, not Washington, where he served as senator, made decisions affecting Harris.
When she tried to interrogate him, Biden threw a jolt of his own saying, "I was a public defender, I did not become a prosecutor," referring to Harris's previous job of sending people to jail.
"I have also strongly argued that we are indeed concerned with denying people access to the ballot box," added Biden.
"I agree that everyone, as soon as they've run out of time – I'm sorry," Biden said and fell silent.
Harris was not the only candidate who tried to make a headline by attacking Biden and emphasizing the generation gap.
Swalwell said in a CNN interview on Thursday that Biden's ideas were "staler than Donald Trumps."
And on the debate stage, he added, "I was 6 years old when a presidential candidate came to the California Democratic convention and said it was time to pass the torch on to a new generation of Americans. Joe Biden. "
" He was right when he said that 32 years ago. He's still right today. "
Biden did not seem overly disturbed by the insolence of his 38-year-old colleague and replied," Me Hold on to that torch, I want to make that clear, "he said.