In June 2019, during the Democrat presidential primary debates, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) blasted the now-nominee, Joe Biden, insinuating he was a racist for applauding segregationist senators and opposing a 1970s federal busing program that put children in schools based on race:
… 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.
Former Sen. Chris Dodd, a member of Biden’s vice presidential search committee, recently asked Harris about her attack on Biden in that first debate. Dodd told a longtime Biden supporter and donor, “She laughed and said, ‘That’s politics.’ She had no remorse.” The donor relayed the exchange to Politico on condition of anonymity.
Former California Democratic Party Chair, John Burton, said he told Dodd, “Look for someone who does no harm.” Burton explained he worries President Donald Trump and Republicans will weaponize Harris’ clash with Biden on the debate stage over race. Race relations have taken center stage in the media and the American psyche as race riots have been terrorizing major U.S. cities for two months now.
After the debate, Harris capitalized on her attack on Biden by echoing her point on Twitter and selling “that little girl was me” T-shirts.
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) June 28, 2019
Harris eventually backtracked on the position she took during the debate that the federal government “must step in” to assign children to schools based on race, and took a similar position to Biden on the subject, saying busing “is in the toolbox” of ways localities can apply a racial lens to schools.
During the debate, Biden fired back at Harris by pointing out that while she was working as a prosecutor, he was working as a public defender who fought for civil rights. Kamala’s record as a “tough on crime” San Francisco district attorney inspired a “Kamala Is a Cop” meme that did not sit well with leftists.
With the Black Lives Matter movement driving nationwide demands to “defund” and even “abolish” police forces and encouraging a “cancel cops” culture, the 2019 meme has understandably aged poorly.
To shake her past and her critics, Harris co-wrote Democrats’ policing bill, and opposed the Republican JUSTICE ACT introduced by the first black man to ever serve in both chambers of Congress, Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.).
Harris told reporters that Scott’s bill was “empty” and “We cannot proceed with what they’re offering.” Slipping in an adulation to Biden, she added, “There’s no question that if we [Democrats] are in the majority in the Senate and that if Joe Biden were president there would be a lot more movement.”
Despite Harris’s bad blood with Biden and record as a prosecutor, she has remained a leading VP candidate. With mounting pressure for Biden to select a veep based on race and sex, one former Biden adviser said Harris “checks everything that’s so important to [Biden].”
Another Biden confidant said, “Knowing him, Kamala is the best pick for him. Their politics are very similar. I would be surprised if it wasn’t her.”
Other VP hopefuls include Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass), former national security adviser Susan Rice, and Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.).