Saying that "30 seconds to 60 seconds on a campaign debate exchange can't do justice to a lifetime commitment to civil rights," Joe Biden defended his record on racial issues Friday. Kamala Harris had forcefully, and emotionally, questioned his past statements and positions during a Democratic presidential debate the night before. "I know and you know, I fought my heart out to ensure that civil rights and voting rights, equal rights are enforced everywhere," Biden told a convention of the Rev. Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow PUSH Coalition in Chicago, Politico reports. Harris had talked about being bused as a child, and Biden again cited his 1974 vote against an amendment that would have barred federal courts from ordering busing to rectify segregation. "I never, never, never ever opposed voluntary busing," he told the convention.
Biden, who told the convention he would be "a president who stands against racism," seemed to step back from his debate argument that cited states' rights. Enforcing equal rights laws is the federal government's duty, he said Friday, per CNN. He then shifted the subject to his more recent civil rights stances, shared with President Barack Obama when Biden was vice president. "The discussion in this race today shouldn't be about the past," he said Friday. "We should be talking about how we can do better, how we can move forward." (Harris says she was just "speaking truth" to Biden.)