Joe Biden, under attack from all sides in the debate for his border policies when he was in the White House, turned to his reliable talisman, former President Barack Obama.
But New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker wasn’t having it, and landed a series of blows against the former vp for embracing Obama when it’s convenient but not taking blame for the failures of his administration.
“You can’t have it both ways. You invoke President Obama more than anyone else in this campaign. You can’t do it when it’s convenient and then duck it when it’s not,” Booker said.
“And the second thing is, and this really irks me: I heard the vice president say, ‘If you’ve got a Ph.D., you can come right into this country. Well, that’s playing into what the Republicans want. Pit some immigrants against other immigrants,” Booker said. “Some are from shithole countries, and some are from worthy countries.”
The digs came after New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio challenged Biden about whether he ever objected to Obama’s mass deportations of roughly 3 million migrants during his two terms in office.
"I asked the vice president if he used his power to stop those deportations. If you want to be president of the United States you need to be able to answer the tough questions,” de Blasio said. “I guarantee you if you're debating Donald Trump, he's not going to let you off the hook."
Biden tried to pivot, hitting Booker on his criminal justice record during his tenure as mayor of Newark, New Jersey, from 2006 to 2013.
“For the entire eight years, he was mayor,” Biden said. “There was nothing done to deal with the police department that was corrupt. Why didn’t you announce on the first day a zero-tolerance policy for stop and frisk, and hire Rudy Giuliani’s guy in 2007, when I was trying to get rid of the crack cocaine disparity?”
But with a sly grin, Booker hit Biden back with what immediately became one of the night’s most memorable lines.
"Mr. Vice President, there's a saying in my community — you're dippin' into the Kool-Aid and you don't even know the flavor," Booker said to a chorus of jeers from the crowd. “You need to come to the city of Newark and see the reforms we put in place.”
Cover: Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., speaks to former Vice President Joe Biden as they participate in the second of two Democratic presidential primary debates hosted by CNN Wednesday, July 31, 2019, in the Fox Theatre in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)