Co-host Meghan McCain asked Harris about some of her remarks ahead of the debate, and when she attempted to bait the senator, it didn’t seem to go as the conservative pundit planned.
McCain recalled on the July 12 show that Harris told NPR in late last year, “I’m very fond of Joe Biden, so you’re not going to hear me criticize Joe Biden. I think he’s a great guy.”
But when the debate rolled around last month, Harris took aim at Biden for his 1970s stance on federally ordered busing to achieve school desegregation.
“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,” Harris said during the debate of Biden’s remarks about working alongside segregationists in the ’70s. “And it was not only that, but you also worked with them to oppose busing. And, you know, 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. And that little girl was me.”
Noting that, McCain mentioned Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s reaction to Harris’ debate remarks.
“Really, what she’s saying is her position is the same one she was criticizing Joe Biden for,” Gabbard told CBS News Monday. “So this is just a political ploy and I think a very underhanded one, just to try to get herself attention, to move herself up in the polls.”
Asked about what changed, Harris maintained she doesn’t aim to tear into Biden but remained firm about pointing out her and Biden’s “differences of opinion” about a key point in American history.
“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,” Harris says.
The senator added that she brought up those remarks because Biden’s statement that he was able to work alongside segregationists with “some civility,” came up regarding an issue that “directly impacted me.”
“So listen, this is a presidential race,” Harris continues. “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, but we’re on a debate stage.”
McCain cut in to note a Biden advisor called her “slick and slippery,” which Harris tamped down by waving her index finger and saying, “hold on!”
“Well, you know what?” Harris says calmly, “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.”
As Gabbard and various news outlets have pointed out, Harris, like Biden, has said school busing should be a local, not federal, decision, so it’s unclear what the California senator was referring to in her characterization of a “difference of opinion” between her and Biden about how to achieve school desegregation.
Nevertheless, viewers largely approved of how Harris tamped down McCain.
“I don’t support Harris, but this response was excellent. This is a debate not a playground. You can’t handle what a person brings then leave or be prepared.”
“Really liked her response here. They know they can’t bully her like they’ve done others. 👀☕️”
“I love how Kamala schooled Meghan and the rest of the panel on Biden not being prepared.”
“I liked her simple response too…. It’s a debate. Not a 5 grade school play, not a walk in the park, not a binge session of stranger things…its a PRESIDENTIAL debate. And, she was prepared.”