Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden significantly stumbled during Thursday’s presidential debate in Tennessee when pressed by President Donald Trump on the issue of criminal justice reform.
The result was one of the single most awkward moments in recent debate memory — a cringe-inducing moment in which he stared at debate moderator Kristen Welker with a maladroit look in his eyes.
A spirited discussion regarding Biden’s support for controversial criminal justice legislation throughout the 1980s and 1990s, during his time as a senator representing Delaware, showed who won the debate with regard to stamina and charisma.
And it wasn’t Biden.
Each candidate was asked the question, “Do you understand why [black and brown] parents fear for their children?”
Trump quickly brought up Biden’s history of legislation and language that doesn’t square with Democrats’ current rhetoric.
“He’s been in government 47 years. He never did a thing. Except in 1994, when he did such harm to the black community, and they were called, and he called them, ‘super-predators,'” Trump said.
On the issue of reforming aspects of the criminal justice system which critics say disproportionately target minority Americans, Trump pressed Biden, “Why didn’t you do it in the eight years [you were vice president]?”
“You put tens of thousands of mostly black young men in prison,” Trump added.
“Why didn’t you get it done? You had eight years with Obama.
“You know why, Joe,” he said, “because you’re all talk and no action.”
Biden was seemingly left without a quick retort, and quietly uttered, “We had a Republican Congress.”
The statement was followed by what felt like an eternity of awkward silence between the 77-year-old and Welker.
Biden then had to clarify, four or five uncomfortable seconds later, “That’s the answer.”
The moment quickly went viral on Twitter:
Biden: “We had a Republican Congress…”
— JT Lewis (@thejtlewis) October 23, 2020
Trump just crushed Biden.
Trump: Why didn’t you do it Joe?
Joe: Republican Congress
Trump: sometimes you gotta talk them into it, Joe.
— The Daily Wire (@realDailyWire) October 23, 2020
Biden finally admitted that he didn’t do it! Wow! A stunned silence over the entire room. “We had a Republican Congress.”
— Eddie Zipperer (@EddieZipperer) October 23, 2020
Joe Biden blames republican house for his failures.
Trump pauses and says, “you gotta talk em into it, Joe.”
— Jack Murphy 🇺🇸 ⚔️ (@jackmurphylive) October 23, 2020
Oddly enough, it was actually President Trump who broke the unbearable silence, when he jump-started the conversation and ended the tension.
“You gotta talk them into it, Joe. Sometimes you gotta talk them into it. Like I did with criminal justice reform,” Trump said regarding his work with Congress.
“I had talk Democrats into it,” the president added.
In case Biden needed a reminder, Democrats actually won majorities in both the House and the Senate in 2006, and in 2008, when Biden and President Barack Obama were elected to the White House, the party increased its majorities in both chambers.
Biden and Obama had two years of relative free rein to pass whatever legislation they pleased.
The pair had two years of complete government control before the GOP took back the House, and yet very little was done on the issue of criminal justice reform, which Biden is suddenly an ardent supporter of.
Trump, meanwhile, signed into law the bipartisan FIRST STEP Act in 2018, which aimed to reduce prison populations while also focusing on public safety.
Additionally, the bipartisan act championed by Trump reformed sentencing laws and focused on true rehabilitation.
Trump spent several moments during the debate portraying Biden as the ineffectual politician he has always been, while portraying himself as a non-politician.
Though he’s been president for nearly four years, it’s hard to argue Trump has been influenced by the D.C. swamp.
Trump is still the outsider in this race, and not even another two-on-one Biden/moderator matchup could trip him up.
The president, who has never been accepted by the beltway establishment, took the awkward Biden to school with regard to the art of negotiating, and simultaneously hit the former VP for his almost five-decade career in government.
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