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Democratic debate live: Kamala Harris and Joe Biden square off on Night 2 in Detroit

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Democratic debate 2019
(Photo illustration / Los Angeles Times)

Sen. Kamala Harris and former Vice President Joe Biden played defense, hecklers protested Bill de Blasio, and healthcare policy won the spotlight again.

Here are our five takeaways from Night 2 of the debates in Detroit>>

Many candidates will have to scramble to qualify for the September debate

Now that the second round of Democratic presidential debates is over, many of the candidates are scrambling to qualify for the third in September.

The Democratic National Committee has made it harder to get on stage next time. The candidates have until Aug. 28 to meet the party’s stricter polling and fundraising tests.

The third debate will take place Sept. 12 in Houston, with a possible second night on Sept. 13 if party leaders decide the stage would be too crowded with all qualifying candidates at the same time.

So far, only seven of the roughly two dozen Democrats in the race appear to have qualified for the debate: former Vice President Joe Biden, Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Kamala Harris of California and Cory Booker of New Jersey, Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind., and former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke.

Several others — Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro of Texas and businessman Andrew Yang of New York among them — are relatively close to being eligible.

But many of the low-tier contenders face highly uncertain prospects.

To get on stage, candidates must each have more than 130,000 donors from at least 20 states. They also need at least 2% support in four media or university polls of voters in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, South Carolina or nationwide.

As for the set of debates that wrapped up Wednesday night, here are five takeaways from the second night. Both Biden and Harris came under repeated attacks from rivals.

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Joe Biden takes fire from all sides in Democratic debate

Democratic presidential hopeful Former Vice President Joe Biden (C) gestures as he speaks flanked by US Senator from California Kamala Harris (R) and US Senator from New Jersey Cory Booker 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)JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images ** OUTS - ELSENT, FPG, CM - OUTS * NM, PH, VA if sourced by CT, LA or MoD **
(JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

The attacks on front-runner Joe Biden were unrelenting and, at times, personal in a contentious Democratic debate Wednesday night during which the former vice president delivered retorts as he sought to persuade voters that he is not a relic, but the politician to revive the party.

The star progressives sharing the stage with the more moderate Biden on Wednesday — California Sen. Kamala Harris and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker — tangled with him on issues not just of policy, but of identity politics, as the two black lawmakers compete with the former vice president for African American voters, whose support is crucial to winning the nomination.

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The debate is filled with heckles from the crowd

Wednesday’s Democratic debate was filled with heckles from the crowd, and it seems that the campaign for former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel was there to encourage it.

“If you’re in the audience tonight, interrupt Joe Biden! Take a video, send it to us, and we’ll give you $100,” his Twitter account tweeted.

Shouts of “Fire Pantaleo!” interrupted Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey’s opening statement. That message was aimed toward New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, in reference to Daniel Pantaleo, the police officer who put Eric Garner, an unarmed black man, into a fatal chokehold in 2014.

Later, an immigration activist associated with the national movement Movimiento Cosecha began to chant, “3 million deportations!” as former Vice President Joe Biden responded to a question about the deportations that occurred during the Obama administration.

Video of the protester shows the activist held up an orange scarf that read, “Stop all deportations on day one.” It appears that Gravel’s tweet followed that interruption.

In response to Gravel’s tweet, the account for Movimiento Cosecha replied, “We’re way ahead of you.”

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Takeaways from Night 2 of the Democratic debate

Sen. Kamala Harris and former Vice President Joe Biden, standing at center stage at the Democratic presidential debate in Detroit, were clearly ready to reprise their prior debate face-off, training their focus on each other as the debate began.

But the other eight candidates on stage – Sen. Michael Bennet, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, former U.S. Housing Secretary Julián Castro, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and entrepreneur Andrew Yang – weren’t ready to cede the evening to the two top candidates.

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Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York accuses former Vice President Joe Biden of sexism for 1981 op-ed

Detroit debate
(Jim Watson / AFP/Getty Images)

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York accused former Vice President Joe Biden of sexism for an 1981 newspaper op-ed he wrote, in which he complained that society’s increasing reliance on day-care centers and nursing homes was resulting in the “the deterioriation of the family.”

On the debate stage, Gillibrand challenged Biden, saying, “What did you mean when you said, when a woman works outside the home, ‘it results in the deterioration of family’? … These are quotes. It’s the title of the op-ed.” Gillibrand communications director Meredith Kelly afterward tweeted a screenshot of the op-ed, but did not specify where the article was published. (A Gillibrand spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for the source of the article.)

“Expanding the childcare tax credit and allowing more women to work would subsidize ‘the deterioration of the family,’” Kelly wrote on Twitter. “Those are his words. He should explain to America: How does a mom working lead to the deterioration of the family?”

On stage, Biden told Gillibrand that the op-ed was “a long time ago” and was primarily about not giving tax breaks for child care to wealthier families who didn’t need the financial assistance.

He added that “I never believed” that women working led to the “deterioration of the family,” and he pointed out that he had also once been a single father in need of child care after his wife was killed in a car crash.

Biden’s 1981 article, under the headline “Congress Is Subsidizing Deterioration of Family,” was about his opposition to a day-care tax credit being extended to wealthier families. It does not specifically mention mothers or women’s gender roles, but it decries what he saw as a lack of personal responsibility by modern parents who were increasingly outsourcing the domestic care of young children and aging grandparents instead of undertaking such care themselves. Gillibrand’s implication appears to be that Biden’s opposition to the day-care tax credit was a de facto attack on the ability of mothers to obtain child care that would allow them work outside the home.

“Too many Americans — especially members of my generation – go out of their way to avoid individual responsibility for themselves and for their families,” Biden wrote. He also complained that such a system would allow well-off families “to place their children in day-care centers in order to acquire material possessions that go far beyond any basic family necessities.” Calling himself “a little too old-fashioned,” Biden said it was “a sad commentary” that the government would subsidize child care when it wasn’t necessary. “The day-care centers and nursing homes blossoming across the American landscape are monuments to our growing unwillingness to accept personal responsibility for those to whom we owe the most — our children, our parents and our grandparents,” Biden added.

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Candidates disagree on whether President Trump should be impeached

The Democratic candidates disagreed on the question of whether President Trump should be impeached.

New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro called most strongly to launch House impeachment proceedings, citing the findings of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.

But New York Mayor Bill de Blasio warned that if that process moved forward, Democrats also would need to work on the kitchen-table issues he believes Americans are most worried about.

“Don’t forget the people’s business,” he said.

Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet cautioned that impeachment would play into the president’s hands, allowing him to peg the Democrats as obsessed with his removal from office.

California Sen. Kamala Harris said Trump needs to be held accountable for the evidence Mueller presented of obstruction of justice in the White House.

“I have seen people go to prison for far less,” the former state prosecutor said.

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Biden and Harris play defense: Five takeaways from Night 2 of the Democratic debate

Former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris.
Former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris.
(Scott Olson / Getty Images)

At first, it looked like the rematch was on.

Sen. Kamala Harris and former Vice President Joe Biden, standing at center stage at the Democratic presidential debate in Detroit, were clearly ready to reprise their prior debate face-off, training their focus on each other as the debate began. But the others onstage weren’t ready to cede the evening to the two candidates.

Instead, both Harris and Biden found themselves playing defense not just against each other, but from their other rivals: Sen. Michael Bennet, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, former U.S. Housing Secretary Julián Castro, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, Hawaii congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and entrepreneur Andrew Yang.

Here are some takeaways from Wednesday’s debate.

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Celebrities take to Twitter with reactions to Democratic debates in Detroit

Many of Hollywood’s politically active members took to Twitter during both nights of the Democratic presidential debate this week to express amusement, outrage and support.

On Wednesday, some opined on the healthcare discussion, with California Sen. Kamala Harris and former Vice President Joe Biden clashing early on.

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Candidates aim at Biden’s vote for NAFTA

Former Vice President Joe Biden was pressed on his views on trade, notably because of his 1994 vote for the North American Free Trade Agreement, which some blame for large-scale manufacturing and automotive job losses in places like Michigan.

“President Trump is trying to sell NAFTA 2.0. He’s got a new name for it; it’s just as dangerous as the old NAFTA, it’s going to take away American jobs like old NAFTA,” said New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, before asking whether Biden would oppose it and instead pursue trade treaties that include labor at the table.

“Yes,” Biden said.

A moderator asked, “That’s it?”

“Yes,” Biden said. “He said would I insist that labor be engaged. I said yes.”

De Blasio responded, “I consider that a victory.”

“Well I love your affection for me,” Biden said.

As the audience laughed, De Blasio said, “We believe in redemption in this party.”

Biden was also questioned about whether he would support a renewed Trans-Pacific Partnership. The proposed multi-lateral trade deal was a major policy push by the Obama administration but President Trump formally withdrew from the proposed agreement.

Biden said he would not rejoin the TPP as it was written but he would renegotiate the deal in order to reflect environmental and labor concerns.

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Biden comes under attack on immigration

Former Vice President Joe Biden came under intense fire from rivals over immigration in the Democratic presidential debate on Wednesday as he was pressured to answer for deportations under the Obama administration.

“Did you say those deportations were a good idea or did you go to the president and say, ‘This is a mistake, we shouldn’t do it.’ Which one?” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio asked Biden after the former vice president twice sidestepped questions on the matter.

“I was vice president,” Biden responded. “I am not the president. I keep my recommendation in private, unlike you. I expect you would go ahead and say whatever was said privately with him. That’s not what I do.”

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Candidates go after Biden’s plan for climate change

The candidates challenged Joe Biden over his plans to combat climate change, with Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee describing them as “too little, too late.”

Inslee said he visited a neighborhood in west Detroit that is close to a petroleum refinery and where residents have experienced high levels of asthma and other illnesses.

New York entrepreneur Andrew Yang argued that it’s too late to turn back global warming and said the solution is to elevate the economic standing of the most vulnerable people so they can move to areas where they’ll be safer from dangers like rising sea levels.

Biden defended his approach, saying his plan would eliminate the use of fossil fuels and create 500,000 electric-car charging stations. By 2030, he said, the country would move to all electric vehicles.

While working toward those goals, Biden said he would bring world leaders together to discuss other long-term solutions.

“We can walk and chew gum at the same time,” Biden said.

New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand took a lighter approach, saying the first thing she’d do as president to clean up the environment is “Clorox the Oval Office.”

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Biden flashes his Obama administration credentials

Detroit debate
(Paul Sancya / Associated Press)

Among the many times that Joe Biden flashed his Obama administration credentials was when candidates were asked how Democrats would win back Michigan, a crucial state that defected to Donald Trump in 2016. Biden recalled all the Obama administration did for the state in its policies to recover from the recession — an economic stimulus bill, a bailout for auto companies, and helping get Detroit out of bankruptcy.

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Kirsten Gillibrand on her first order of business in the Oval Office

(Los Angeles Times)

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Busing, a flashpoint during the first Democratic debate, reignited in the second debate

Sen. Kamala Harris, who scored points on former Vice President Joe Biden on the issue last month, was asked whether her position on busing was actually similar to Biden’s.

“That is simply false,” she said, before highlighting Biden’s work in the U.S. Senate in the 1970s. “When Vice President Biden was in the Senate working with segregationists to oppose busing, which was the vehicle by which we would integrate America’s schools, had I been in the U.S. Senate, I would have been completely on the other side of the aisle.”

During the June debate, Harris had a breakthrough moment and stunned Biden by highlighting her history of being bused to school as she slashed at his opposition to forced busing at the time. He said he supported busing that was court-ordered, as well as voluntary busing, which was the type of integration effort Harris’ school used.

In the days after the debate, though, Harris said busing today ought to be an option for local school districts, effectively mirroring Biden’s position.

On Wednesday, Harris added that had the segregationist senators whom Biden has spoken of working civilly with had their way, she, Sen. Cory Booker and former President Obama would not have been elected to their offices.

Biden didn’t respond directly to these attacks, instead turning to Harris’ record as attorney general of California.

“Two of the most segregated school districts in the country were in Los Angeles and in San Francisco, and she did not — I didn’t see a single solitary time she brought a case against them to desegregate,” he said.

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‘He should be fired now’ — candidates weigh in on police killing of Eric Garner

Detroit debate
Former Housing the Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro during Wednesday night’s debate.
(Paul Sancya / Associated Press)

After the Democratic debate was interrupted by chants of “fire Pantaleo!” — referring to Staten Island police officer Daniel Pantaleo, who put Eric Garner in a chokehold that led to his death — New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s campaign tweeted that he heard the protesters.

Garner was being arrested in 2014 for selling loose cigarettes. Pantaleo has not been prosecuted and remains employed by the New York City Police Department. When asked why Pantaleo is still on the job, De Blasio pointed to efforts by the Police Department to reform its practices.

But New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said that’s not enough. “He should be fired; he should be fired now,” she said. Gillibrand said that as president, she’d call for a full investigation, the results of which should be made public. And if she wasn’t satisfied with the results, she’d issue a consent decree against the NYPD to review practices on the force."That police officer should be off the street,” former HUD Secretary Julián Castro said of Pantaleo.

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Booker attacks Biden’s record on criminal justice

Cory Booker, who has been looking for a breakthrough moment to rise from polling doldrums, took aim at Joe Biden’s record on criminal justice and his authorship of the 1994 anti-crime bill, a measure that has been blamed for over-incarceration of black men. Booker said Biden cannot make amends for the impact of that policy with a new criminal justice plan that was not far-reaching enough.

“This is one of those instances where the house was set on fire,” Booker said. “You can’t just now come up with a plan to put out that fire.“

Biden shot back with criticism of Booker’s tenure as mayor of Newark, N.J., because of allegations of abuse in the city’s police department and its use of stop-and-frisk practices.

Booker responded that he inherited a troubled police department, but that his record compares favorably to Biden’s heavy hand in federal anti-crime policy. He said he was “shocked” that Biden wanted to compare records on the issue, and called his attacks on his Newark record ill-informed.

“You are dipping in the Kool-Aid and you don’t even know the flavor.”

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2020 candidates call on Americans’ shared values

From left, Sen. Cory Booker, former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Kamala Harris and Andrew Yang.
(Associated Press)

From the beginning, the candidates sought to frame the 2020 presidential campaign as one that will call on Americans to assert their shared values and agree on a shared national identity.

“This is an inflection moment in the history of our country,” California Sen. Kamala Harris said, a chance for voters to decide “who we are.”

“I am running for president to restore the soul of this country,” former Vice President Joe Biden said.

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Protest over Obama-era deportations

Former Vice President Joe Biden was interrupted by at least one protester over the Obama administration’s deportation policy during Wednesday’s Democratic presidential debate.
Biden was asked by a CNN moderator whether if he were elected president he would return to deportation levels seen under President Obama, which exceeded those seen under President Trump.

“Absolutely not,” Biden said, before a woman in the audience of the Fox Theatre began screaming about “3 million people,” a reference to the number of people deported during eight years under Obama.

The protester was tied to Movimiento Cosecha, a group urging Democratic candidates to commit to ending deportations on their first day in office. Earlier Wednesday, members blocked the international crossing between Detroit and Windsor, Canada.

The level of deportations during the Obama administration disillusioned some Latino activists to the point that they labeled the then-president the “deporter in chief.” Biden, who touts his role as Obama’s vice president, has already faced criticism on this front. Earlier this year, dozens of immigration activists blocked the entrance to his campaign headquarters in Philadelphia.

Biden has pledged to spend political capital to pass immigration reform if he is elected. He has also said he would immediately sign executive orders undoing parts of Trump’s immigration efforts.

On Wednesday night, he pledged to improve the asylum system so those seeking refuge could quickly seek relief. But unlike some of his Democratic rivals, Biden wants the act of crossing the border illegally to remain a crime, rather than a civil offense.

“If you cross the border illegally, you should be able to be sent back. It’s a crime,” Biden said.

Julián Castro, who served as Housing secretary in the Obama administration and supports changing border crossing to a civil offense, was withering in his response. “It looks like one of us has learned the lessons of the past and one of us hasn’t,” Castro said, noting that the Trump administration is using existing law to separate families at the border.

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The debate over healthcare intensifies

Former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris.
(Associated Press)

The Democratic intra-party debate over healthcare intensified on the debate stage as former Vice President Joe Biden cautioned that California Sen. Kamala Harris’ plans to move the whole country into a single government-run health plan would upend coverage for tens of millions of people. “You will lose your employed-based insurance,” Biden said, criticizing the “Medicare for all” proposal in a line of attack supported by Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet.

More than 150 million Americans currently have job-based health coverage, and although tens of millions are struggling with rising deductibles and medical bills they can’t afford, many also are wary of change, polls show.

Harris, whose plan is designed to be phased in over 10 year to lessen disruptions, defended her plan, arguing that employers should not be able to dictate to workers what coverage they get. And Harris warned that Biden’s more incremental strategy of making a Medicare-like “public option” a choice for Americans would not make healthcare affordable, an argument echoed by other Medicare for all champions, including Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

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Cory Booker commends those ‘standing up’ to Bill de Blasio

The debate is interrupted by chants of “Fire Pantaleo.” Daniel Pantaleo is the New York police officer who put a chokehold on Eric Garner, leading to a fatal asthma attack. Garner was being arrested for selling loose cigarettes. Pantaleo has not been prosecuted and remains employed by the New York City Police Department.

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Flint stakeholders want to hear more about the water crisis

Flint stakeholders hoped that the water crisis taking place an hour north of the Democratic presidential debates would receive more attention during Wednesday night’s face-off than it did the prior night. Rep. Dan Kildee said he was disappointed by the scant attention the Michigan city’s contamination and public health crisis received during Tuesday night’s debate.

The Democratic presidential candidates, he said, should focus on issues critical to Flint and other American cities’ revitalizations, such as economic justice, trade policy, and investment in infrastructure and education. “These candidates ... they can’t just come to Flint for a photo op, check the box and say that they’ve done their duty. We need to hear solutions,” Kildee said.

Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.) said the scant amount of time focused on Flint in Tuesday’s debate was a missed opportunity. 

Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, the pediatrician who discovered the elevated levels of lead in the blood of Flint’s children, added that the crisis is ongoing and similar contamination is unfolding in other parts of the nation.

“The story of Flint needs to be brought to light because it’s a national story,” she said.

Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, who discovered elevated levels of lead in Flint’s kids, wants to hear more discussion of the water crisis in tonight’s debate. 

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Joe Biden to Kamala Harris: ‘Go easy on me, kid’

“Go easy on me, kid.”

Joe Biden to Kamala Harris

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This teacher wants to hear from Kamala Harris

Debate ticket holder Erica Hodges is looking forward to seeing Sen. Kamala Harris at the Fox Theatre. 

Debate ticket holder Erica Hodges, 40, looks forward to seeing Sen. Kamala Harris at the Fox Theatre tonight.

A schoolteacher who lives on Detroit’s east side, Hodges said she’s especially interested in the California senator’s views on improving education outcomes.

But she doesn’t want to see a divisive rematch between Harris and former Vice President Joe Biden.

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What are some topics of interest tonight? Student loan debt and foreign policy, among others

Gloria Bizelle of Landover, Md., is excited to hear candidates address issues like student loan debt. 

Gloria Bizelle of Landover, Md., traveled to Detroit for the debate. A federal employee, she’s excited to hear the candidates addresses issues of concern to her, such as student loan debt.

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Potential attack lines we may hear tonight

Democratic presidential candidate former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden participates in a Presidential Candidates Forum at the NAACP 110th National Convention on July 24, 2019 in Detroit.
(Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)

Spoiler alert! Or maybe not.

In the lead-up to Wednesday’s debate, Democratic candidates have been busy telegraphing potential attacks on their rivals. It’s certainly set up expectation for a number of clashes, although there’s no guarantee they’ll follow through. Candidates can get cold feet under the bright stage lights, or have a whole other line of attack prepared that can leave their targets unprepared.

Here’s a sampling of the potential attack lines we may hear tonight. Kirsten Gillibrand hinted she’d go after rivals on gender roles, telling Iowa voters last week there are “Democratic candidates running for president right now who do not believe necessarily that it’s a good idea that women work outside the home.”

Gillibrand did not say to whom she was referring, but the news site Axios, through internet sleuthing, found that the New York senator’s campaign had probably been gathering newspaper articles from the 1980s on Joe Biden’s vote against expanding the child care tax credit. The former vice president, meanwhile, has signaled he’s ready to take the gloves off against a number of his challengers.

After New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker called Biden “an architect of mass incarceration” for supporting the 1994 crime bill, Biden’s campaign hit back with jabs at dysfunction at the Newark police department while Booker was mayor, showing they’ve been prepping on Booker’s criminal justice record.

And Biden also said he’d be ready to take on California Sen. Kamala Harris, who caught Biden flat-footed in the last debate with her searing critique of his past on school busing and civil rights. “I’m not going to be as polite this time,” he said at a Detroit fundraiser last week.

That prompted a pointedly genteel response from Harris. “My mother raised me to be polite, and I intend to be polite,” she told reporters. “I will express differences and articulate them and certainly point out where we have differences of opinion, because I believe that Democrats and the American voter have a right to know that. But there’s no reason we can’t be polite.”

Senior Biden campaign officials told reporters that the former vice president planned to aggressively dispute mischaracterizations of his record during Wednesday night’s debate. Biden learned that “there are no rules of engagement” during last month’s debates, they said.

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What does Cornel West want to hear from candidates?

Harvard scholar Cornel West shares what he wants to hear, but doesn’t think he’ll get, in tonight’s Democratic debate. 

Harvard scholar Cornel West shares what he wants to hear during tonight’s debate. “Don’t hold your breath,” he says.

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Did Elizabeth Warren just end John Delaney’s two-year presidential journey?

Few have put in as much time and effort to become the Democratic nominee for president as businessman and former Maryland congressman John Delaney.

Delaney announced his run way back in July 2017 — 2 1/2 years ago, and 1 1/2 years before Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts threw her hat in the ring in February. He’s been grinding out events and making connections in the key states of Iowa and New Hampshire. He got the donors necessary to qualify for the first round of presidential debates.

And after all that, it’s entirely likely that Delaney’s greatest moment of prominence in the 2020 campaign came and went Tuesday night, as the progressive Warren turned Delaney into a punching bag in some of the night’s most talked-about moments.

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Night 2 of the debate at Detroit’s Fox Theatre

Fox Theatre
Night 2 of the Democratic presidential primary debate starts at 5 p.m. Pacific. It’s being hosted in Detroit at the historic Fox Theatre, which opened in 1928.
(Tyrone Beason)

Night 2 of the Democratic presidential primary debate starts at 5 p.m. Pacific. It’s being hosted in Detroit at the historic Fox Theatre, which opened in 1928.

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These candidates have the most at stake

Joe Biden, the front-runner in polls, faces pressure to recover from a desultory performance last month in his first venture on the national debate stage since running for reelection as vice president in 2012.

Most of the rest of the candidates are desperate for a breakout moment that will lift them from the jam-packed field and build enough support for a return appearance when the debate series resumes in mid-September.

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Joe Biden struggles and Kamala Harris surges after clash over race and busing

Shortly after falling flat in his debut debate, Joe Biden struggled to overcome renewed doubts about his presidential candidacy and his place atop the field of Democratic hopefuls as Kamala Harris, fresh off a commanding debate performance, continued to question his record on civil rights.

The former vice president rolled out the endorsement of Atlanta’s black mayor, Keisha Lance Bottom, and appeared before black labor leaders in Chicago, where he insisted that “the discussion in this race shouldn’t be about the past.”

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School busing in Berkeley during Kamala Harris’ childhood was both voluntary and volatile

Busing in Berkeley
Youngsters head for a school bus in Berkeley on Feb. 24, 1970, when a busing program to mix black and white youngsters had been in effect for 18 months.
(Associated Press)

Kamala Harris’ three years of busing from her family’s mainly black working-class neighborhood to a prosperous white enclave in the hills overlooking San Francisco Bay was at once universal and uniquely Berkeley.

More than 50 years after Berkeley launched its busing program, Harris, one of its most famous participants, thrust it back into the spotlight in last week’s Democratic presidential debate.

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Joe Biden vows to be more aggressive

“I’m not going to be as polite this time.”

Joe Biden

A week before a crucial debate, Democratic presidential front-runner Joe Biden on Wednesday said he would more aggressively confront his rivals, notably Sen. Kamala Harris.

“I’m not going to be as polite this time,” Biden said at an evening fundraiser, referring to the California senator who launched an attack on him during the first Democratic debate in June.

Biden’s remarks came after a full day of countering rivals who questioned his legacy and signaling that he was prepared to attack their records.

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Half of voters have changed their minds since spring, poll shows

As Democratic presidential hopefuls prepare for their second round of debates this week, a new poll finds that half of likely primary voters have changed their minds since the spring, highlighting how unsettled the contest remains.

Former Vice President Joe Biden continues to lead in the latest USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times nationwide poll, while three senators, Kamala Harris of California, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Bernie Sanders of Vermont, are essentially tied for second place. That marks an improvement for Harris and Warren and a decline for Sanders since April, when the poll last tested the Democratic race.

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7 things to watch for on Night 2

Democratic debate 2019
Kamala Harris looks past Bernie Sanders as she confronts Joe Biden at last month’s Democratic debate. Harris and Biden share the stage again at Wednesday’s forum.
(Wilfredo Lee / Associated PressWilfredo Lee / Associated Press)

Is Cory Booker giving up on “love” to try to get ahead?

What’s up with Andrew Yang?

How will Julián Castro do?

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