Politics

Biden And Harris Bicker Over Busing As Surrogates Spar On Twitter

David Krayden Ottawa Bureau Chief

Former Vice President Joe Biden continued to defend his record on school busing and integration Thursday from attacks by California Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris as the two compete for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Harris raised the issue of school busing and Biden’s opposition to it during last week’s second Democratic debate, stealing the show and sandbagging Biden with her own recollections of being a black child bussed to school to enforce racial integration.

Biden told NBC News Thursday that it is time to “move on” because contemporary audiences have long forgotten the emotional argument of school busing and are oblivious to the nuances of the debate that raged almost 50 years ago, when Biden was a young senator from Delaware.

Former Vice President and 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden speaks during a campaign event on July 4, 2019 in Marshalltown, Iowa. (Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images)

Former Vice President and 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden speaks during a campaign event on July 4, 2019 in Marshalltown, Iowa. (Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images)

“I don’t have to atone,” Biden told NBC News in Independence, Iowa, following a Fourth of July parade. “My record stands for itself. I’ve always supported voluntary busing, which she was part of.”

After appearing to backtrack on her position on school busing, Harris’s position looked a lot like Biden’s — but the California Senator insisted she was not taking the same policy position as Biden. (RELATED: Kamala Harris Selling ‘That Little Girl Was Me’ T-Shirts)

“He has yet to agree that the position he took then was wrong, and he and I just disagree on that,” she told NBC.

Democratic presidential hopeful Kamala Harris addresses the media about migrant children in front of a detention center in Homestead, Florida on June 28, 2019. (Photo credit should read RHONA WISE/AFP/Getty Images)

Democratic presidential hopeful Kamala Harris addresses the media about migrant children in front of a detention center in Homestead, Florida on June 28, 2019. (Photo credit should read RHONA WISE/AFP/Getty Images)

Biden has plummeted in post-debate polls but remains in a precious first place for the Democratic presidential nomination. Even though Biden has referred to himself as the “most progressive” Democrat running for president, he has supported many conservative policies throughout his long political career, including support for traditional marriage and the 1994 “three strikes” crime bill that he authored.

His record on race relations was not always so simple and often reflected the values of a border state with racially divided history. Biden has called segregation a source of “black pride.” (RELATED: Ocasio-Cortez Blames Biden For Giving Segregationists A Pass)

The issue has campaign surrogates of Biden and Harris sparring on Twitter. Biden campaign communications director  Kate Bedingfield lashed out at Harris, tweeting that it is “disappointing that Senator Harris chose to distort Vice President Biden’s position on busing — particularly now that she is tying herself in knots trying not to answer the very question she posed to him!”

Harris communications director Lily Adams shot back, suggesting Biden was always changing his positions, as he had recently with the Hyde Amendment that prohibits public funding for most abortions. “Remind me what his position on Hyde was a month ago?” she asked.