Biden speaks at Rainbow PUSH convention, addresses debate comment on busing

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Former Vice President Joe Biden was in Chicago on Friday, one day after his first debate in the 2020 race to the White House.

RELATED: Democratic debate 2019 recap: Race, age, health care and Trump

The moment from Thursday's debate that many are still talking about was when Senator Kamala Harris challenged Biden on his past work with segregationist senators. Biden wasted no time in addressing the issue on Friday.

"I heard and I listened to and I respect Senator Harris," he said. "But we all know that 30 seconds to 60 seconds on a campaign debate exchange can't do justice to a lifetime commitment to civil rights."

Biden, who is currently the Democratic frontrunner, was called out by Harris specifically about busing that was used in the 1970s to desegregate schools. On Friday he talked about his long record of supporting civil rights and said that he was never opposed to voluntary busing.

"I want to be absolutely clear about my record and position on racial justice, including busing. I never never, never, ever opposed voluntary busing," he said.

But he appears to have taken a different stand in June 1977.

"I happen to think the one way to ensure that you set the civil rights movement further back is to continue to push busing because it's a bankrupt policy," Biden says in a news clip from then.

Biden was the first of many Democrats who will be speaking at the Rainbow PUSH convention in the next few days. The convention is being held at the Chicago Teachers Union's headquarters.

Reverend Jesse Jackson, Sr., declined to directly criticize Biden, instead saying the two have been political friends for years.

"Joe Biden has his strongly held beliefs," Jackson said. "Doesn't make him a bad guy, just a different side of history than we're on fighting for civil rights."

While Biden's debate performance may have hurt him Thursday, Jackson was more cautious in his evaluation.

"I don't know, it's too early to say. The election is not this month, it's next November," he said. "You still have time to change and modify positions that are more in line with where our feelings are."

Harris was supposed to speak at the convention at 6 p.m. Friday but had to cancel due to a scheduling conflict.
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