Former Vice President Joe Biden has often referenced his closeness with former President Barack Obama as one of his primary credentials. That association backfired some during Wednesday night’s debate, however.
On multiple occasions, opponents used Biden’s time in the Obama administration against him, particularly in the are of immigration.
CNN’s Don Lemon opened the door for the attacks by citing statistics showing that the Obama administration was deporting illegal immigrants at a higher rate than the Trump administration has.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio took it from there, asking Biden what he did, if anything, to stop the high rates of deportation that the current Democratic party decries. Biden’s response was shaky. He first tried to deflect from the issue by citing Obama’s creation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
“The president came along and he’s the guy that came up with the idea, first time ever of dealing with the Dreamers,” Biden said. “He put that in the law. He talked about a comprehensive plan which he put on—laid before the congress saying that we should find a pathway to citizenship for people.”
De Blasio, not satisfied with that answer, pressed for more specifics on what Biden did about mass deportation while in the White House. Biden then totally ducked the question.
“I was vice president. I’m not the president,” Biden said. “I keep my recommendation in private. Unlike you, I expect you would go ahead and say whatever was said privately. That is not what I do.”
Booker called Biden out for trying to distance himself from Obama’s now-unpopular immigration policies.
“You invoke President Obama more than anybody in this campaign. You can’t do it when it’s convenient and then dodge it when it’s not,” Booker said.
On another occasion, Biden tried to criticize Julian Castro, who was a cabinet member in Obama’s administration, for not bringing up immigration concerns back then.
“I found that Julián, excuse me, the secretary, we sat together in many meetings, I never heard him talk about any of this when he was the secretary,” Biden said.
“First of all, Mr. Vice President, it looks like one of us has learned from the lessons of the past and one of us hasn’t,” Castro retorted.