Kamala Harris on Friday fired back at a member of Joe Biden’s presidential campaign for referring to her as “slick and slippery,” suggesting that she’s not to blame for Biden’s unsteady response when she questioned his record on civil rights.
The California Democrat, who has shot up in the polls since the first Democratic debate two weeks ago, argued in an interview on “The View” that the issue was too personal for her to ignore, even though it has sparked infighting among the 2020 Democratic field.
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Harris departed from a generally civil tone after a headline-grabbing clash between the two over civil rights and busing during last month’s Democratic debate.
“I have no intention of attacking Joe Biden, but I am going to point out our differences of opinion on a very critical moment in the history of the United States,” she argued, pointing out that the issue came up about a week before the debate.
“This is a presidential race, and I absolutely agree and believe and maintain that we should not have personal attacks against each other. We should not be attacking each other,” she said, when co-host Meghan McCain interjected.
“A Biden adviser called you slick and slippery,” McCain noted. “A Biden adviser just called you that.”
“You know what?” Harris responded, wagging her finger. “We’re on a debate stage, and if you have not prepared and you’re not ready for somebody to point out a difference of opinion about the history of segregation in our country and what was necessary to deal with that, which at that time was busing, then you’re probably not ready.”
Biden appeared blindsided by Harris’ confrontation during the debate, at one point stopping himself and resignedly saying, “my time is up.” The next day, Biden gave a forceful defense of his record on civil rights, invoking former President Barack Obama and his unwavering support from civil rights leaders over decades of public service.
Though the former vice president acknowledged he was unprepared to come under fire from Harris, in the weeks since the debate, Biden and Harris allies have sniped back and forth to reporters and on social media.
The latest salvo came when a senior adviser this week referred to Harris as “a slick and slippery person” in an interview with POLITICO while previewing a new assertive stance from Biden — prompting backlash about the anonymous nature of the attack.
Harris downplayed her exchange with Biden, which has festered as the California senator has eaten into Biden’s once-untouchable lead in the polls.
Confronted with a promise Harris made in January — before Biden officially entered the race — that “you’re not gonna hear me criticize Joe Biden,” the senator said she simply wished to point out her differences of opinion with the former vice president.
McCain continued to press Harris on the matter, noting that the Harris campaign had a tweet and merchandise up featuring Harris’ debate line within moments.
“I haven’t talked about it, but I just think that on this issue, we disagree, and it should not be characterized as a personal conflict,” Harris said, dodging the question. “We disagree.”
While Harris has wavered on whether she would support federally mandated busing to address the issue of school segregation, which exists to this day, she took care to emphasize Friday that “if I were serving in the United States Senate, 40 years ago, when Joe Biden was serving there, we would have been on opposite sides.”