After last week’s presidential primary debate, Joe Biden was widely seen as the loser after a bruising back and forth with Sen. Kamala Harris (CA) over his recent comments on working with segregationist senators and his past opinions on forced busing.

He’s already lost a top fundraiser but remains at the top of the pack in polling even though his numbers have slipped slightly since Thursday.

Now that all the smoke has cleared from last week’s dust-up, some key Democrats are rising to defend Biden, noting that you have to look at the total package of a candidate’s record rather than nitpick over what appears on the surface to be negatives.

DNC Chairman Tom Perez spoke to Fox News’s Chris Wallace on Sunday about Biden and defended the former veep’s civil rights record:

Asked in an interview on “Fox News Sunday” how damaging attacks on the former vice president’s opposition to federally mandated school busing in the 1970s could be, Perez said Biden and other candidates’ overall civil rights records are “clear.”

“Voters are going to look at the totality of everybody’s record,” Perez said. “And the reality is every single Democrat running for president on the issue of civil rights is so far ahead of where this president is.”

“Biden’s overall record on civil rights is clear, and the Democratic Party’s overall record on civil rights is clear,” he said.

Perez added that it’s up to Biden “to explain his position.”

Watch the interview segment between Perez and Wallace below:

Another Biden defender to speak out this week was former Sen. Carol Moseley Braun (IL):

“We can be proud of her nonetheless, but her ambition got it wrong about Joe,” said former Illinois Sen. Carol Moseley Braun, the first African American woman to serve in the Senate who has endorsed Biden in the 2020 primary. “He is about the best there is; for her to take that tack is sad.”

“Her ambition got it wrong about Joe” is about as close as any Democrat will come to say that Harris staged an attack, which she planned for months, on Biden due to a desire to move into the top tier.

Going into the debate, Harris knew that Biden had enjoyed steady support from the black community, much of it due to his time as President Obama’s vice president. She also knew that two legendary civil rights icons – Reps. James Clyburn (SC) and John Lewis (GA) – stood up for Biden after the backlash over his remarks about getting along with segregationist senators.

So she did what politically ambitious people do when they want to get ahead: Go for the jugular, even if it means severing alliances by way of taking some very cheap shots against one of your own.

But will Harris’s short-term gains from her Biden broadside translate into long-term success with voters? If she continues her hard left tack on forced busing, it could ultimately backfire on her. Busing has historically been deeply unpopular with the American electorate, even in the black community.

Even Harris’s kingmaker Willie Brown said the issue would give her problems in a general election matchup against Trump:

California Sen. Kamala Harris got all the attention for playing prosecutor in chief, but her case against former Vice President Joe Biden boiled down in some ways to a ringing call for forced school busing. It won’t be too hard for Trump to knock that one out of the park in 2020.

Detroit will host the next two Democratic debates on July 30th and 31st. Biden will have plenty of time between now and then to make up lost ground with black voters. But his handlers should better prepare him for the possibility he’ll have to share a stage again with Harris.

Because if they don’t, she’s likely to go all “Bend the Knee” on Sleepy Joe next time around, and it won’t be pretty.

— Stacey Matthews has also written under the pseudonym “Sister Toldjah” and can be reached via Twitter. —

 
 
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