The first-ever black Republican National Committee chairman has warned that Democrat presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris’s relentless, seemingly money-motivated attacks on former Vice President Joe Biden could damage her already wavering support within the black community.
Speaking with The Hill, former RNC chairman Michael Steele revealed that some older black men and women whom he’s spoken to since the second Democrat presidential primary debate last week have said they feel like “she [Harris] done him [Biden] wrong.”
Listen to the interview below:
“In the black community, it hurt her,” he added. “This was not something that I think she’s going to walk away from with a lot of black support.”
Granted, some younger blacks liked her “aggressiveness,” he cautioned.
“Younger ones were sort of mixed,” he said. “They kind of liked the aggressiveness, but it’ll be interesting to see how this settles down.”
These remarks were made in regard to the senator’s upset performance at the debate, during which she pummeled Biden over his past opposition to so-called integrated busing and his recent comments about his former segregationist colleagues.
The feud started when Harris slyly suggested Biden’s a racist.
“I do not believe you are a racist,” she said. “And I agree with you when you commit yourself to the importance of finding common ground, but I also believe — and it is personal, and it was actually very hurtful to hear you talk about the reputations of two United States senators who built their reputation and career on the segregation of race in this country. And it was not only that, but you also worked with them to oppose busing.”
As the debate progressed, she also took shots at the former VP for his opposition to integrated busing, saying, “There was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public schools, and she was bused to school every day. That little girl was me.”
“Busing” was and still remains a controversial Democrat policy that calls for busing minority students to schools outside of their local district so as to promote more so-called “diversity.” During his earlier years as a senator, Biden stood in staunch opposition to it.
These attacks seemingly worked, as the former VP’s poll numbers slipped while the senator’s poll numbered rose following the debate last week. This didn’t surprise Steele.
New post-debate CNN poll shows 10-point drop for Biden compared to May poll. Big bump for Harris:
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) July 1, 2019
“The polling doesn’t surprise me,” he said in another part of his interview with The Hill. “He came in there flat-footed and ill-prepared, made some assumptions about his opponents.”
“And, even though they told him in advance what they were going to do … still, it didn’t seem to awaken those instincts inside of Biden to go out there and be a little bit more aggressive and protect himself.”
The former VP basically wound up living up to the nickname President Donald Trump has given him: “Sleepy” Joe Biden.
But, Steele cautioned, Harris’s current bump in the polls won’t necessarily sustain her for the long run.
“What I think that’s underneath the poll numbers that’s equally important is how Kamala fares in light of that exchange with Biden,” he said. “Top line, it looks like she got a bump — six points. Beneath the surface — there’s polling coming out to support this view — in the black community, this hurt her.”
“It may largely be age-related, older African Americans. I talked to some folks — about ten folks all together between California, Florida and New York — and the response from those who were 45 and older was ‘she done him wrong,’ basically, was too aggressive, too much. And so you had older African Americans saying this, particularly women, which I thought was very interesting.”
The Hill correspondent Saagar Enjeti added that many Congressional Black Caucus members have come out in defense of the former VP.
“I’ve heard from a lot of Congressional Black Caucus members saying the same thing,” he said. “Many of them are defending Joe Biden. We have a couple of endorsements to Kamala Harris, but it’s certainly not the majority view.”
After the debate last week, Harris announced that she’d secured the endorsements of two CBC members, Reps. Bobby Rush and Frederica Wilson. However, most CBC members still remain undecided.
— Scott Wong (@scottwongDC) July 1, 2019
“With seven months to go before the first primary votes are cast, most CBC members are still undecided, including powerful and influential lawmakers like Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters of California, House Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings of Maryland, Majority Whip James Clyburn of South Carolina and civil rights icon John Lewis of Georgia,” The Washington Post reported Thursday.
“Those who have endorsed candidates have split chiefly between two: Harris and Biden, who has deep ties to the African American community. As of Wednesday, Harris had seven endorsements from CBC members and Biden had five.”
Those aren’t bad numbers for Biden, given that, one, he isn’t black, and two, his poor performance at last week’s debate.
All this data, plus Steele’s warning, suggests that the former prosecutor turned senator doesn’t have as easy of a path to the Democrat nomination as some think.
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