Biden the punching bag as debate rivals attack him on immigration, race, and crime

DETROIT — Joe Biden fended off political attacks on multiple fronts during the second night of Democratic 2020 presidential primary debates in Detroit, hitting the former vice president and longtime senator over his record on immigration, race, and crime.

New Jersey Sen.Cory Booker and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio led the charge against Biden, the front-runner in the 26-person Democratic field, according to most polls. They were joined at times by California Sen. Kamala Harris and various other candidates, the tag-team effort resulting in Biden playing defense most of the night. That followed a lackluster performance during the June debates in Miami, when Biden fell prey to an assault by Harris over his 1970s-era opposition to school busing and boasts of working with segregationist senators.

The 10 contenders on stage for the second night of the Motor City series brought a frenetic energy to the event, which rippled through the audience. Protesters twice interrupted proceedings, with shouts about immigrant deportations and criminal justice.

Biden himself predicted the coming onslaught at the start of the debate. “Go easy on me, kid,” Biden told Harris when the pair shook hands. “Tonight, I think Democrats are expecting some engagement here. I expect we’ll get it,” he said during his opening statement.

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