Joe Biden was enemy number one at Thursday night’s CNN presidential debate.
The former vice president predictably clashed with Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), but he also faced attacks from other competitors like Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ).
As the debate turned to the issue of criminal justice reform, Biden was put in the hot seat by Booker.
Asked about Booker calling his criminal justice reform plan “inadequate,” Biden claimed his plan is similar to Booker’s. The former vice president emphasized putting drug offenders through “rehabilitation” rather than prison, and providing an education to those within the prison system.
It was rosy talk from the man who once helped pass the infamous 1994 crime bill, a bill that is now seen as a major reason criminal justice reform is needed at all in this country.
Booker called Biden out for his involvement in that bill and his sudden flip-flop on criminal justice reform.
“This is one of those instances where the house was set on fire and you claimed responsibility for those laws and you can’t just now come out with a plan to put out that fire. We have got to have far more bold action on criminal justice reform,” Booker said.
The senator added that he wants to federally legalize marijuana.
Biden then had a major gaffe when he referred to Booker as “the president.” He then “corrected” himself and called Booker the “future president.”
Biden said the 1994 crime bill was passed with overwhelming support and he has been working hard on criminal justice reform since 2007.
The former vice president also decided to not play softball with the senator anymore and he brought the New Jersey politician’s history on criminal justice reform into question.
Biden accused Booker of having the New Jersey police department engage in “stop and frisk” and arresting far more black criminals than white.
Booker responded by humorously thanking Biden for “endorsing” his presidency already.
He continued, “It’s not secret that I inherited a police department with massive problems and decades long challenges.”
When Biden tried to jump in, Booker said, “Mr. Vice President, I did not interrupt you. Please show me that respect.”
He went on to say, “If you want to compare records — and quite frankly, I’m shocked that you do — I am happy to do that because all of the problems that he is talking about that he created, I actually led the bill that got passed into law that reverses the damage that your bills [did].”
Biden hit back saying, “There was nothing done for the entire eight years that he [Booker] was mayor. There was nothing done to deal with the police department that was corrupt.”
Booker was having none of it.
“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,” he said.
He added that Biden’s past “phony rhetoric” on being tough on crime “destroyed communities.”
It is widely known that Biden’s history with criminal justice reform is an embarrassment and the 1994 crime bill that was supposed to lower crime created far more problems than it solved. However, many were quick to point out that Booker going after Biden is a little hypocritical since his own record on crime is pretty bad too.
.@CoryBooker was a disaster for crime in Newark
Shootings reached the highest levels since the 90s under Booker
Violent crime soared 33% from 2,415 offenses in 2007 to 3,219 in 2012
How did Booker respond?
He laid off 167 police officers—the largest reduction in 32 years
— Charlie Kirk (@charliekirk11) August 1, 2019
Biden: Hey, here’s three specific examples in your record that doesn’t align with your current criminal justice reform position.
Booker: Well, here’s a folksy old saying that suggests you don’t know what you’re saying!
— Jim Geraghty (@jimgeraghty) August 1, 2019
— Dave Weigel (@daveweigel) July 24, 2019
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