Kamala Harris Breaks Out as Biden Takes Fire
08/29/2019, 10:51:48
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Eric Swalwell’s swipe at Biden led to one of the most remarkable moments of the Democratic debate.

The second Democratic debate Thursday started off on a more immediately combative note than the first, as a packed group that included many of the field's front-runners, such as former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders, immediately fought for the upper hand. One of the most direct attacks of the night came when Rep. Eric Swalwell took aim at Biden and his age, reminding him of remarks he’d made decades ago, and declaring that it’s time to “pass the torch.”

During a response about how to help workers adapt to the changing realities of a more tech-focused world, Swalwell brought up a speech he had heard at a California Democratic Convention in 1987, in which a politician said that “it's time to pass the torch to a new generation.” ”That candidate was then-Senator Joe Biden,” Swalwell said. “Joe Biden was right when he said it was time to pass the torch to a new generation of Americans 32 years ago, and he’s still right today. If we’re gonna solve the issues of automation, pass the torch. If we’re gonna solve climate chaos, pass the torch.”

https://twitter.com/nbc6/status/1144417743757877248

Asked for a response—or as moderator José Diaz-Balart put it, to “sing a torch song”—the 76-year-old Biden responded, “I’m still holding on to that torch,” before launching into an answer on the priority he places on education. Swalwell's direct attack, though, set off a string of cross-talk among the candidates, as millennial Mayor Pete Buttigieg attempted to respond to the age issue as “the youngest guy on this stage,” while Sanders, the oldest candidate in the race, delivered a response over the protestations of Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. As a member of Biden's generation, the 77-year-old Sanders said, “the issue is not generational, the issue is who has the guts to take on Wall Street, to take on the . . . big money interests.” As the tensions between Gillibrand and Sanders began to escalate, however, the bickering was swiftly shut down by Sen. Kamala Harris, who stood between the two candidates. “Hey guys, you know what, America does not want to witness a food fight,” Harris said, putting up her hands to silence Sanders and Gillibrand. “They want to know how we’re gonna put food on their tables.”