- Journalist Edward-Isaac Dovere’s new book offers behind the scene stories of the contentious Biden-Harris debate during the primaries.
Kamala Harris’ ill-fated presidential run had one memorable moment when she stumped Joe Biden in the first Democratic primary in June 2019 — she called out Biden’s opposition to school bussing in the 1960s even as she assured him that she did not consider him a racist. That moment apparently almost killed Harris’ chance of ever becoming Biden’s vice presidential running mate.
A story published in Politico tells the behind the scenes story of the debate in Miami in 2019. It was Harris’ “most viral moment of the race,” Politico says, “by slamming Biden for his 1970s position on busing, linking the attack to the story of a girl who had needed to be bused herself.” Harris famously said then: “That little girl was me” — leaving the former vice president look like a deer in headlights.
The story was adapted from journalist Edward-Isaac Dovere’s book “Battle for the Soul: Inside the Democrats’ Campaigns to Defeat Trump.” Dovere says the story of how Harris prepared for that debate, and Biden and his team in turn responded, “explains how close Harris came to not getting picked for the ticket—and why she and Biden both have worked so hard to build up their relationship in the months since.”
The story then details how each campaign handled the fallout, including an unexpected but seemingly honest reaction by now First Lady Jill Biden. Speaking to close supporters a week after the debate, Jill Biden said Harris should “go f–k” herself after famously questioning her husband’s record on race. “With what he cares about, what he fights for, what he’s committed to, you get up there and call him a racist without basis,” she questioned, as per Politico.
Biden also was furious about the attack, the Dovere says, adding that during a break after Harris’ attack, he turned to fellow candidate Pete Buttigieg, now a transportation secretary in the Biden Cabinet, and said: “That was some f**king bullshit.”
The book comes at a time when Biden and Harris have been working in tandem to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, get America vaccinated and gradually emerge from the pandemic and most the economy and also fight racial discrimination and bias. “Biden has made sure to elevate Vice President Kamala Harris, including her in nearly every aspect of his presidency and making her the point person on migration, a top issue,” Dovere says. “First lady Jill Biden and second gentleman Doug Emhoff have hit it off,” he adds.
“At least so far, there’s been little of the drama or staff fighting that have marked many relationships between president and vice president—including between Barack Obama and Biden in their first year in office together.”