As he continued his attempt to recover from the blow to his campaign leveled by California Senator Kamala Harris in the first Democratic presidential debate and his seemingly inadequate response to her — a combination of factors that have resulted in a drop of six points for Biden in polls compiled in the Real Clear Politics polling average — Biden in a new interview appeared to claim that he has been amassing an arsenal of information on the personal histories of his rival candidates.
But in the CNN interview, as quoted by Britain’s Daily Mail newspaper, Biden said that he would not use that information in his campaign.
In May, Biden issued a pledge that he would not “speak ill” of any other Democratic candidate, according to a Reuters report. Echoing that earlier pledge, Biden told CNN that though he has “all this information about other people’s pasts, and what they’ve done and not done,” he is “not going to go there.”
Biden did not clear what type of “information” he meant, or how he would have obtained it, and CNN interviewer Chris Cuomo did not ask Biden any follow-up questions about the startling claim. Political campaigns routinely gather “opposition research,” that is, negative or potentially derogatory information about rival candidates, as FiveThirtyEight.com explained.
But Biden did not indicate whether his reference to “all this information” was intended to warn his opponents of his own opposition research.
During the June 27 debate, Harris criticized Biden over his past opposition to school busing as a means to racially integrate public schools. On Thursday, she called for Biden to apologize for opposing busing in the 1970s, according to The Washington Post.
“There were forces and individuals and supposed leaders in our country who actively worked against the integration of schools based on race,” Harris said at a campaign stop in Iowa, as quoted by The Post.
“That’s why busing was mandatory at that time. But he has yet to agree that the position he took then was wrong, and he and I just disagree on that.”
But when asked last week about whether she would support mandatory busing to integrate schools that remain segregated today, Harris would say only that busing should be “considered” and was merely “in the toolbox of what is available” to desegregate public schools, according to an Associated Press report.
In his CNN interview, Biden was asked about Harris’s stated position on busing, as quoted by Fox News.
“I think if you take a look, our positions aren’t any different as we’re finding out,” Biden said.