First Lady Jill Biden allegedly said then-presidential candidate Kamala Harris should “go f**k yourself” after Harris appeared to accuse then-presidential candidate, Joe Biden, of taking a racist stance on busing during the first Democratic debate in 2019.
Jill was taken aback after the 2019 debate in which Harris appeared to suggest Biden was at least friendly with racists for supporting busing in the 1970s, according to an excerpt from a new book by Edward-Isaac Dovere, “Battle for the Soul: Inside the Democrats’ Campaigns to Defeat Trump,” published in Politico.
“With what he cares about, what he fights for, and what he’s committed to, you get up there and call him a racist without basis?” Jill allegedly told close supporters a week after the debate, according to the excerpt.
“Go f**k yourself.”
During the first debate, Harris appeared to suggest Biden was at least friendly with racists while clearly stating she doesn’t actually believe Biden himself is a racist.
“‘I’m going to now direct this at Vice President Biden: I do not believe you are a racist, and I agree with you when you commit yourself to the importance of finding common ground,” Harris said. “But I also believe, and it’s personal – 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. 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,” Harris ended.
But her viral comment allegedly wasn’t off the cuff. Dovere suggests Harris’ team was down on donations just days before a fundraising deadline and needed a way to boost support. Harris’ communications director Jim Margolis reportedly thought Harris needed to come out on the debate swinging to make sure she was a notable contender.
Perhaps luckily for Harris, days earlier Biden had become nostalgic while talking about his early days in the Senate working with known segregationists. (RELATED: FLASHBACK: Joe Biden Said ‘Busing’ Was Harmful To The Civil Rights Movement)
“At least there was some civility. We got things done. We didn’t agree on much of anything. We got things done,” Biden said, noting segregationist James O. Eastland “never called me ‘boy’. He always called me ‘son’.”
On the night of the debate, Harris opened up to Biden, leaving him at an apparent loss for words. Biden said Harris “mischaracterized” his position and defended himself against accusations or suggestions of racism.
In a subsequent debate, Harris again pushed Biden on the subject, asking whether he regrets his alleged opposition to busing.
“But, Vice President Biden, do you agree today — do you agree today that you were wrong to oppose busing in America then? Do you agree?”
“I did not oppose busing in America,” Biden responded. “What I opposed is busing ordered by the Department of Education. That’s why I opposed.”
Harris then said she supported a federal role in busing, “That’s where the federal government must step in.” However, she later appeared to backtrack on her stance, saying busing was just a “tool that is in the toolbox” of ways schools could integrate.
“I think of busing as being in the toolbox of what is available and what can be used for the goal of desegregating America’s schools,” she said after a campaign event in West Des Moines, according to The Associated Press. Harris then followed up, “I believe that any tool that is in the toolbox should be considered by a school district.”
Despite the hostile relationship that brewed following the heated moment in the debate, Biden nonetheless chose Harris as his running mate.