At the Thursday evening Democratic presidential debate, Senator Kamala Harris may not have delivered a knockout blow to Vice President Joe Biden‘s candidacy, but she clearly shook him up.
Biden had been well aware that he would be attacked for his collegial – if not, very friendly – relationship with fellow U.S. Senator, James Eastland. A Mississippi arch-segregationist, Eastland believed that the American blacks were “an inferior race.”
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Among other issues, the two found common ground opposing school busing to promote racial integration. A self-proclaimed strong advocate of civil rights, Biden had quite a bit of "splainin" to do.
Indeed, he needed to have ready answers when the question about that personal relationship came up within the context of the busing issue. Yet, Kamala Harris caught Biden flat-footed. Attacking her for having been a prosecutor while he had started his career as a public defender was not helpful.
The Kamala Harris-Joe Biden exchange hurt him very badly in two ways. First, it will cut into the vast store of goodwill he has long enjoyed among African Americans, whose political support has been stronger than that of every other population group.
Perhaps even more catastrophic, Biden may no longer appear to be the Democrat most likely to beat President Donald Trump in 2020. So why continue to support him?
Democratic voters, taking note of how poorly Biden has defended himself against the barbs of primary opponents, will now wonder how well he would withstand the ad homonym attacks by Trump in the general election.
Joe Biden ran in the Democratic Primaries in 1988 and 2008. He dropped out early both times. Now, he is running as the odds-on favorite, and certainly has the financial resources to remain a viable candidate deep into the 2020 primary contests.
So, it may be far too soon to predict if and when he will drop out. Still, his polling numbers will surely take a major hit in the coming weeks. Perhaps relatively soon, he may render his greatest service to the nation. That would be to once more drop out of a presidential race.