Joe Biden on debate rematch with Kamala Harris: ‘I’m not going to be as polite this time’

Joe Biden.

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Joe Biden.
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JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP/Getty Images

WASHINGTON – Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden hinted that he would take a more aggressive tone in the upcoming primary debate in Detroit, Michigan next week.

Biden, who faced heavy criticism for his past record and had to bear the brunt of attacks from rival candidate in Sen. Kamala Harris in the first debate, said at a fundraiser in Detroit Wednesday evening he is “not going to be as polite” in the next debate.

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“I’m not going to be as polite this time,” Biden said in a jab at Harris. “Because this is the same person who asked me to come to California and nominate her in her convention.”

“If they want to argue about the past, I can do that,” he added. “I got a past I’m proud of. They got a past that’s not quite so good.”

Harris went after Biden in the first debate, directly challenging his past position opposing busing to desegregate schools, and creating one of the debate’s most memorable moments.

“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,” Harris said. “That little girl was me. So I will tell you that on this subject, it cannot be an intellectual debate among Democrats.”

Harris would later backtrack on the position of mandatory busing, but it still resulted in a boost for her standing in the polls and a tightening of the top tier of the 2020 Democratic field. Harris also benefited with a boost in donations and her campaign immediately began selling t-shirts featuring her “that little girl was me” line.

Biden characterized his performance in the first debate as ill-prepared and not expecting Harris to hit him the way she did.

“I was prepared for them to come after me, but I wasn’t prepared for the person coming at me the way she came at me,” he said.