Gabbard: Harris Leveled 'False Accusation' of Racism at Biden

'It was a false accusation that Joe Biden is a racist'

Tulsi Gabbard / Getty Images
July 8, 2019

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D., Hawaii) took a shot at Sen. Kamala Harris (D., Calif.) on Monday, tweeting she had leveled a false accusation of racism at fellow 2020 candidate Joe Biden.

"I agree with Axelrod," Gabbard tweeted, in response to a tweet from former Obama adviser David Axelrod that Harris had seemingly taken Biden's original position on busing. "But let's get real. It wasn't a 'whole thing' — it was a false accusation that Joe Biden is a racist."

Gabbard's broadside at Harris comes as she struggles to keep her head above water in the crowded 2020 presidential field. Biden has been the frontrunner since entering the race, and Harris is hot on his heels in recent polling.

Gabbard's attack underscored criticism that Harris's about-face on busing showed her criticism of Biden on racial matters last month was in bad faith.

Harris attacked Biden during a Democratic primary debate last month over his stance in the 1970s against "busing," a term for transporting minority students to schools outside their districts to combat segregation.

Harris received widespread media praise and a bump in the polls for her blistering words about Biden, whom she said she did not believe was a racist but had still hurt her personally with his words about working cordially alongside segregationist Dixiecrats in his early Senate days.

She recounted benefitting from busing as a young girl in California in the 1970s, and she said the federal government needs to step in at times to address racial inequities. Her campaign even sold t-shirts of Harris as a girl following the debate stemming from her viral exchange with Biden.

However, like she has with her back-and-forth support for the abolition of private health insurance, Harris quickly backed off her endorsement of federally mandated busing and adopted Biden's stance that local school districts should make those decisions.

"I think of busing as being in the toolbox of what is available and what can be used for the goal of desegregating America’s schools," she said in Iowa.

According to HuffPost, when asked whether she supports federally mandated busing, she said, "I believe that any tool that is in the toolbox should be considered by a school district."