A Day After Bruising Debate, Biden Pushes Back Against Criticism on Civil Rights – The New York Times

Representative Cedric Richmond, a Louisiana Democrat who is Mr. Biden’s national campaign co-chairman, urged Mr. Biden to stay focused on the future. And he emphasized the importance of discussing Mr. Biden’s time as Barack Obama’s vice president rather than re-litigating his earliest days in the Senate.

“I would not stay talking about 40 years ago and what I meant and what I thought,” said Mr. Richmond, who said he was planning to speak with Mr. Biden today. “And last night it played out in an unfortunate way because he didn’t get a chance to talk about his record.”

Instead, Mr. Richmond advised, “I’ve encouraged him to initiate the Janet Jackson test in everything he does, which is, ‘What have you done for me lately?’ And I would focus on what he has done for people lately as opposed to 40 years ago.”

Privately, a number of Mr. Biden’s allies and associates were taken aback by the intensity of Ms. Harris’s argument, and some quietly acknowledged that the former vice president could have been stronger in response.

But others insisted that his failure to return fire in an equally assertive way signaled his ability to stay above the fray.

“He’s the front-runner and we fully expected attacks to come, but he wasn’t going to engage in a back-and-forth in personal attacks,” said his deputy campaign manager, Kate Bedingfield. “And he didn’t.”

At a labor luncheon sponsored by Rainbow PUSH Coalition, a civil rights organization based in Chicago, Queen Weiner, 67, frowned when asked about Mr. Biden’s debate performance.

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