Biden and Harris revive dispute on busing and criminal justice

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris resumed their dispute during Wednesday’s Democratic presidential debate regarding the legacy of school busing and the role of the criminal justice system in perpetuating America’s racial divide.

Harris was asked whether Biden was correct to say the two candidates have similar views about the historical practice of mandatory busing to desegregate public schools.

“That is simply false,” Harris replied. “And let’s be very clear about this, when Vice President Biden was in the United States Senate working with segregationists to oppose busing, which was the vehicle by which we would integrate America’s public schools, had I been in the Senate at that time I would have been on the other side of the aisle. Had those segregationists had their way, I would not be a member of the United States Senate, Cory Booker would not be a member of the United States Senate and President Obama would not have been in a position to nominate him to the place he holds. On that issue, we could not be more apart. The vice president has still failed to acknowledge that it was wrong to take the position that he took at that time.”

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Democratic debates 2019 Live Updates: Booker interrupted by protesters; Biden tells Harris 'go easy on me kid' (ABC News)
From left, Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., Andrew Yang, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio are introduced before the second of two Democratic presidential primary debates hosted by CNN Wednesday, July 31, 2019, in the Fox Theatre in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
From left, Andrew Yang, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio are introduced before the second of two Democratic presidential primary debates hosted by CNN Wednesday, July 31, 2019, in the Fox Theatre in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
From left, Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., Andrew Yang, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio stand for the National Anthem as they are introduced before the second of two Democratic presidential primary debates hosted by CNN Wednesday, July 31, 2019, in the Fox Theatre in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, participates in the second of two Democratic presidential primary debates hosted by CNN Wednesday, July 31, 2019, in the Fox Theatre in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Cory Booker Interrupted by Protesters at Democratic Debate
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., speaks during the second of two Democratic presidential primary debates hosted by CNN Wednesday, July 31, 2019, in the Fox Theatre in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and former Vice President Joe Biden are introduced before the second of two Democratic presidential primary debates hosted by CNN Wednesday, July 31, 2019, in the Fox Theatre in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
Former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., shake hands before the second of two Democratic presidential primary debates hosted by CNN Wednesday, July 31, 2019, in the Fox Theatre in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
DETROIT, MICHIGAN - JULY 31: Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden (L) speaks while Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) listens during the Democratic Presidential Debate at the Fox Theatre July 31, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan. 20 Democratic presidential candidates were split into two groups of 10 to take part in the debate sponsored by CNN held over two nights at Detroit’s Fox Theatre. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MICHIGAN - JULY 31: Democratic presidential candidate Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) takes the stage at the Democratic Presidential Debate at the Fox Theatre July 31, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan. 20 Democratic presidential candidates were split into two groups of 10 to take part in the debate sponsored by CNN held over two nights at Detroit’s Fox Theatre. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential hopeful US entrepreneur Andrew Yang delivers his opening statement during the second round of the second Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season hosted by CNN at the Fox Theatre in Detroit, Michigan on July 31, 2019. (Photo by Jim WATSON / AFP) (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential hopeful US Senator from New Jersey Cory Booker delivers his opening statement during the second round of the second Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season hosted by CNN at the Fox Theatre in Detroit, Michigan on July 31, 2019. (Photo by Jim WATSON / AFP) (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential hopeful former US Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro delivers his opening statement during the second round of the second Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season hosted by CNN at the Fox Theatre in Detroit, Michigan on July 31, 2019. (Photo by Jim WATSON / AFP) (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential hopeful US Senator from New York Kirsten Gillibrand delivers her opening statement during the second round of the second Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season hosted by CNN at the Fox Theatre in Detroit, Michigan on July 31, 2019. (Photo by Jim WATSON / AFP) (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential hopeful Governor of Washington Jay Inslee delivers his opening statement during the second round of the second Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season hosted by CNN at the Fox Theatre in Detroit, Michigan on July 31, 2019. (Photo by Jim WATSON / AFP) (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee listens as New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks during the second of two Democratic presidential primary debates hosted by CNN Wednesday, July 31, 2019, in the Fox Theatre in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
From left, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio participate in the second of two Democratic presidential primary debates hosted by CNN Wednesday, July 31, 2019, in the Fox Theatre in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
A protester yells during the second of two Democratic presidential primary debates hosted by CNN Wednesday, July 31, 2019, in the Fox Theatre in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., participate in the second of two Democratic presidential primary debates hosted by CNN Wednesday, July 31, 2019, in the Fox Theatre in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
DETROIT, MICHIGAN - JULY 31: Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) (L) and former Vice President Joe Biden (R) speak during the Democratic Presidential Debate at the Fox Theatre July 31, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan. 20 Democratic presidential candidates were split into two groups of 10 to take part in the debate sponsored by CNN held over two nights at Detroit’s Fox Theatre. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MICHIGAN - JULY 31: Democratic presidential candidate Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) speaks during the Democratic Presidential Debate at the Fox Theatre July 31, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan. 20 Democratic presidential candidates were split into two groups of 10 to take part in the debate sponsored by CNN held over two nights at Detroit’s Fox Theatre. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential hopeful US Senator from California Kamala Harris gestures as she speaks during the second round of the second Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season hosted by CNN at the Fox Theatre in Detroit, Michigan on July 31, 2019. (Photo by Jim WATSON / AFP) (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
A protester unfurls a banner as Democratic presidential hopefuls participate in the second round of the second Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season hosted by CNN at the Fox Theatre in Detroit, Michigan on July 31, 2019. (Photo by Jim WATSON / AFP) (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
A protester leaves the Fox theatre after being escorted out for interrupting the second Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season hosted by CNN at the Fox Theatre in Detroit, Michigan on July 31, 2019. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential hopeful US Senator from Colorado Michael Bennet speaks during the second round of the second Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season hosted by CNN at the Fox Theatre in Detroit, Michigan on July 31, 2019. (Photo by Jim WATSON / AFP) (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential hopefuls Governor of Washington Jay Inslee (L) and Mayor of New York City Bill de Blasio participate in the second round of the second Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season hosted by CNN at the Fox Theatre in Detroit, Michigan on July 31, 2019. (Photo by Jim WATSON / AFP) (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., participate in the second of two Democratic presidential primary debates hosted by CNN Wednesday, July 31, 2019, in the Fox Theatre in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Democratic presidential hopeful Governor of Washington Jay Inslee gestures as he speaks during the second round of the second Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season hosted by CNN at the Fox Theatre in Detroit, Michigan on July 31, 2019. (Photo by Jim WATSON / AFP) (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential hopeful US Senator from New York Kirsten Gillibrand speaks during the second round of the second Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season hosted by CNN at the Fox Theatre in Detroit, Michigan on July 31, 2019. (Photo by Jim WATSON / AFP) (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. Senator Cory Booker speaks as former Vice President Joe Biden gestures on the second night of the second 2020 Democratic U.S. presidential debate in Detroit, Michigan, July 31, 2019. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., talk after the second of two Democratic presidential primary debates hosted by CNN Wednesday, July 31, 2019, in the Fox Theatre in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., and Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J. talk after the second of two Democratic presidential primary debates hosted by CNN Wednesday, July 31, 2019, in the Fox Theatre in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee chat during a break in the second of two Democratic presidential primary debates hosted by CNN Wednesday, July 31, 2019, in the Fox Theatre in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Democratic presidential hopefuls US Senator from New Jersey Cory Booker (L), US Senator from California Kamala Harris (C) and Former Vice President Joe Biden shake hands after the second round of the second Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season hosted by CNN at the Fox Theatre in Detroit, Michigan on July 31, 2019. (Photo by Jim WATSON / AFP) (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (2nd L), and former HUD Secretary Julian Castro (2nd R) and U.S. Senator Cory Booker (R) greet each other after the second night of the second 2020 Democratic U.S. presidential debate in Detroit, Michigan, July 31, 2019. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
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Biden, who greeted Harris on stage in Detroit by quipping “Go easy on me, kid," responded by changing the subject to Harris’s record as California’s attorney general, and earlier, as San Francisco’s district attorney.

“When Senator Harris was the attorney general for eight years in the state of California there were two of the most segregated school districts in the country in Los Angeles and San Francisco. I didn’t see a single solitary time she brought a case against them to desegregate them,” Biden said. “Secondly, she also was in a situation where she had a police department when she was there [as District Attorney of San Francisco] that in fact was abusing people’s rights and the fact was that she in fact was told by her own people that her own staff that she should do something about and disclose to defense attorneys like me that you in fact have been — the police officer did something that did not give you information that exculpate your client. She didn’t do that. She never did that. So what happened? Along came a federal judge and said, ‘Enough is enough,’ and he freed 1,000 of these people. If you doubt me, Google ‘1,000 prisoners freed, Kamala Harris.’”

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DAVENPORT, LOWA, UNITED STATES - 2019/07/16: United States Senator from California Kamala Harris hugs Kyrah Cortimiglia as she campaigns for the Democratic nomination for the 2020 United States presidential election at Friends of MLK during a round table discussion for women of color. (Photo by Jeremy Hogan/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
DAVENPORT, LOWA, UNITED STATES - 2019/07/16: United States Senator from California Kamala Harris campaigns for the Democratic nomination for the 2020 United States presidential election at Friends of MLK during a round table discussion for women of color. (Photo by Jeremy Hogan/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) speaks during the second night of the first Democratic presidential debate on Thursday, June 27, 2019, at the Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami. (Al Diaz/Miami Herald/TNS via Getty Images)
MIAMI, FLORIDA - JUNE 27: Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) speaks during a television interview after the second night of the first Democratic presidential debate on June 27, 2019 in Miami, Florida. A field of 20 Democratic presidential candidates was split into two groups of 10 for the first debate of the 2020 election, taking place over two nights at Knight Concert Hall of the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County, hosted by NBC News, MSNBC, and Telemundo. (Photo by Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential hopeful US Senator for California Kamala Harris participates in the second Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season hosted by NBC News at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami, Florida, June 27, 2019. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential hopeful US Senator for California Kamala Harris speaks to the press in the Spin Room after the second Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season hosted by NBC News at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami, Florida, June 27, 2019. (Photo by JIM WATSON / AFP) (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Senator Kamala Harris addresses the crowd at the We Decide: Planned Parenthood Action Fund 2020 Election Forum to Focus on Abortion and Reproductive Rights event in Columbia, SC on June, 22 2019. - Many of the Democratic candidates running for president are in Columbia to make appearances at the South Carolina Democratic Party Convention and the Planned Parenthood Election Forum on June 22. (Photo by Logan Cyrus / AFP) (Photo credit should read LOGAN CYRUS/AFP/Getty Images)
Supporters of US Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris attend a meet and greet at an historic home in Columbia, South Carolina on June 21, 2019. - Many of the Democratic candidates running for president are in Columbia to make appearances at the South Carolina Democratic Party Convention and the Planned Parenthood Election Forum on June 22. (Photo by Logan Cyrus / AFP) (Photo credit should read LOGAN CYRUS/AFP/Getty Images)
US Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris speaks to a porch full of supporters at a meet and greet at an historic home in Columbia, South Carolina on June 21, 2019. - Many of the Democratic candidates running for president are in Columbia to make appearances at the South Carolina Democratic Party Convention and the Planned Parenthood Election Forum on June 22. (Photo by Logan Cyrus / AFP) (Photo credit should read LOGAN CYRUS/AFP/Getty Images)
A supporter of US Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris attends a meet and greet at an historic home in Columbia, South Carolina on June 21, 2019. - Many of the Democratic candidates running for president are in Columbia to make appearances at the South Carolina Democratic Party Convention and the Planned Parenthood Election Forum on June 22. (Photo by Logan Cyrus / AFP) (Photo credit should read LOGAN CYRUS/AFP/Getty Images)
A supporter of US Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris attends a meet and greet at an historic home in Columbia, South Carolina on June 21, 2019. - Many of the Democratic candidates running for president are in Columbia to make appearances at the South Carolina Democratic Party Convention and the Planned Parenthood Election Forum on June 22. (Photo by Logan Cyrus / AFP) (Photo credit should read LOGAN CYRUS/AFP/Getty Images)
MSNBC - Election Coverage "The Last Word Town Hall with Lawrence O'Donnell and Kamala Harris" -- Pictured: Kamala Harris -- (Photo by: Liz Nemeth/MSNBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
MSNBC - Election Coverage "The Last Word Town Hall with Lawrence O'Donnell and Kamala Harris" -- Pictured: Kamala Harris -- (Photo by: Liz Nemeth/MSNBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
MSNBC - Election Coverage "The Last Word Town Hall with Lawrence O'Donnell and Kamala Harris" -- Pictured: (l-r) Lawrence O'Donnell, Kamala Harris -- (Photo by: Liz Nemeth/MSNBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
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NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 05: Democratic presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) speaks at the National Action Network convention on April 5, 2019 in New York City. A dozen 2020 Democratic presidential candidates will speak at the organization's convention this week. Founded by Rev. Al Sharpton in 1991, the National Action Network is one of the most influential African American organizations dedicated to civil rights in America. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE! - "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" airs every weeknight at 11:35 p.m. EDT and features a diverse lineup of guests that include celebrities, athletes, musical acts, comedians and human interest subjects, along with comedy bits and a house band. The guests for Tuesday, March 19, included Senator Kamala Harris (2020 Presidential Candidate), Mark Hamill ("Knightfall"), and musical guest Judah & the Lion. (Randy Holmes via Getty Images) SENATOR KAMALA HARRIS
NORTH LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - MARCH 01: Attendees hold up campaign sign as U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris (not pictured) speaks during a town hall meeting at Canyon Springs High School on March 1, 2019 in North Las Vegas, Nevada. Harris is campaigning for the 2020 Democratic nomination for president. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 21: (L-R) 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Rev. Al Sharpton exit after having lunch at Sylvia's Restaurant in Harlem, February 21, 2019 in New York City. According to Sharptons civil rights organization National Action Network, the two discussed criminal justice reform and other critical issues. Harris dined on a dish of chicken and waffles. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 21: (L-R) Rev. Al Sharpton and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) talk while having lunch at Sylvia's Restaurant in Harlem, February 21, 2019 in New York City. According to Sharptons civil rights organization National Action Network, the two discussed criminal justice reform and other critical issues. Harris dined on a dish of chicken and waffles. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
US Senator from California, Kamala Harris, addresses the media January, 21 2019 at Howard University in Washington, DC after announcing earlier in the day that she is seeking to become the first African American woman to hold the office of US president, joining an already-crowded field of Democrats lining up to take on Donald Trump. - Harris joins Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Hawaii congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and former housing secretary Julian Castro, among others, either in the race or exploring a run for the 2020 Democratic nomination. Nearly 22 months before the 2020 election, the battle for the White House is already firming up, as Americans begin to assess who might be the opposition party nominee to challenge Trump for control of the White House. Harris made the announcement on the national holiday honoring civil rights movement icon Martin Luther King Jr., whom she said her mother met. (Photo by EVA HAMBACH / AFP) (Photo credit should read EVA HAMBACH/AFP/Getty Images)
GOOD MORNING AMERICA - Senator Kamala Harris announced she is running for president in 2020 today, Monday, January 21, 2019 on Walt Disney Television via Getty Images's "Good Morning America." "Good Morning America" airs Monday-Friday (7-9am, ET) on Walt Disney Television via Getty Images. (Photo by Lorenzo Bevilaqua/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images) SENATOR KAMALA HARRIS, GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ROBIN ROBERTS
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The moment reprised their clash during the first Democratic debate in June, when Harris caught Biden off guard by attacking him for saying he was proud to have worked with segregationist senators to pass Democratic bills during his early years in the Senate.

Biden entered the Senate in the 1970s as a moderate who supported civil rights but opposed federal mandates for busing.

Harris pointed to her own childhood experience of being bused to school in Berkeley, Calif. and accused Biden of being on the wrong side of history for opposing federal busing mandates.

Both candidates have said they would not seek to enforce mandatory busing today.

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