Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and former Vice President Joe Biden had a fiery exchange over their records on criminal justice, with the senator accusing the 2020 frontrunner of “dipping into the Kool-Aid.”
During Wednesday night’s Democratic debate, Biden defended his criminal justice reform plan, which Booker had previously called “inadequate.” But the New Jersey senator took things a step further as well, going after the former vice president for his heavy involvement in the 1994 Crime Bill.
“This is one of those instances where the house was set on fire and you claimed responsibility for those laws,” Booker said. “You can’t just now come out with a plan to put out that fire.”
Biden quickly went after Booker’s record as Newark mayor where he “hired Rudy Giuliani’s guy” and “engaged in stop and frisk.”
“You had 75 percent of those stops reviewed as illegal, you found yourself in the situation where three times as many African Americans were caught in that chain and caught up,” Biden hit back, continuing: “the Justice Department came after you for saying you were engaging in behavior that was inappropriate and nothing happened the entire time you were mayor.”
Booker acknowledged that he “inherited a police department with massive problems,” but quickly returned fire at the former Delaware senator.
“We have a system right now that’s broken and If you want to compare records and I’m shocked that you do, I am happy to do that,” Booker shot back. “Because all the problems that he is talking about that he created, I actually led the bill that got passed into law that reverses the damages that your bills…. that you were bragging calling it the ‘Biden Crime Bill’ up until 2015.”
Biden reiterated his attacks about Booker’s enforcement of “stop and frisk”
“Mr. Vice President, there’s a saying in my community: ‘You’re dipping into the Kool-Aid and you don’t even know the flavor,” Booker shot back, sparking applause.
Booker continued, “You need to come to the city and see the reforms we put in place. The head of the ACLU said that I embraced reform not just in action but in deeds. You are trying to shift the view from what you created. There are people right now in prison for life, for drug offenses because you stood up and used that tough on crime phony rhetoric that got a lot of people elected but destroyed communities like mind. This isn’t about the past. This is about the present, right now.”