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Biden: I wasn't ready for Kamala Harris to attack me that way

"What I didn’t want to do was get into that scrum," Biden said of the Democratic debate.
Image: Joe Biden
Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden attends the Rainbow PUSH Coalition Annual International Convention on June 28, 2019, in Chicago.Scott Olson / Getty Images

Former Vice President Joe Biden defended his record and his recent debate performance in a CNN interview Friday, saying he wasn’t prepared for the way Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., attacked him in the Democratic debate.

“I was prepared for them to come after me,” Biden said in a one-on-one interview with CNN's Chris Cuomo. “But I wasn’t prepared for the person coming after me the way she came after me. She knew Beau, she knows me,” the former vice president said, referring to his deceased son, Beau Biden, who worked as a state attorney general like Harris.

In the interview, Biden said his record was “taken out of context” during the June 27 debate. Harris cited her own personal experience being bused to school in California to criticize his past opposition to busing; in the debate, Biden began to defend himself, before stopping and saying he was out of time.

In the Friday morning interview, Biden again sought to defend his record, saying he supported voluntary school busing and busing when a court proved that there were actions taken to segregate schools, but that he opposed busing when it was mandated by “unelected” officials.

“Busing did not work,” he said. “You had overwhelming response from the African American community in my state … they did not support it.”

As to the need to clarify his record a week after a prime-time debate, Biden criticized the time constraints and sparring during the event that included 10 candidates.

"What I didn’t want to do was get into that scrum," he said.

Asked whether his debate performance undercut his presentation of himself as able to take on Trump, Biden said he can spar.

"I'm looking forward to this, man," he said. "The idea that I'd be intimidated by Donald Trump? He’s the bully that I knew my whole life. He’s the bully that I’ve always stood up to. He’s the bully that used to make fun when I was a kid that I stutter, and I’d smack him in the mouth."