Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) said fellow 2020 Democratic candidate Sen. Kamala Harris’s (D-Calif.) attack on former Vice President Joe Biden’s voting record on busing amounted to a “false accusation” that Biden is “a racist.”
Gabbard’s comments come as questions have been raised over whether Harris’s position on federally mandated busing is different from that of Biden, whom Harris called out in the first round of primary debates.
“But let’s get real. It wasn’t a ‘whole thing’ — it was a false accusation that Joe Biden is a racist,” Gabbard tweeted Monday, in response to a tweet from David Axelrod pointing out the apparent contradiction in Harris’s position on busing. Shortly after the debates, Harris in Iowa said she believed busing was a local, as opposed to a federally mandated, decision.
I agree with Axelrod. But let’s get real. It wasn’t a “whole thing” — it was a false accusation that Joe Biden is a racist. https://t.co/KQ8OnhDQ8A
— Tulsi Gabbard (@TulsiGabbard) July 8, 2019
Ian Sams, a spokesperson for Harris, pointed out Gabbard’s accusation is in direct opposition to what Harris said onstage.
“She literally said in the debate: ‘I do not believe you are a racist,’ ” Sams said.
During the debate, Harris addressed Biden’s prior remarks on working with segregationists in the Senate. At the time he had refused to apologize; he since has.
Harris prefaced her comments on Biden’s words by saying, “I do not believe you are a racist and I agree with you when you commit yourself to the importance of finding common ground.”
She went on to call out his record on opposing federally mandated busing.
After the debates, while campaigning in Iowa on July 3 Harris made comments to reporters that suggested her views on busing are more in line with Biden’s.
“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,” Harris said.
She later clarified and placed her comments in historical context when speaking to reporters.
“Thankfully, today, it is very rare that we require the courts or federal government to intervene where other governments are opposed to integration. But there are still issues of segregation in our schools today,” she said.
She said she’s in favor of school districts and municipalities doing what they need to aid integration based on race, “but thankfully we don’t see what we saw then.”
“I think it’s very important for us to be clear on history, and frankly I think the vice president has yet to agree that his position on the kind of busing that took place when I was bused to school was wrong,” she said.