MSNBC host Chris Matthews scored the first major post-debate interview with the night’s runaway winner, Sen. Kamala Harris. Among his questions for the presidential candidate: How do you not have a “hatred for all white people?”
Matthews began by trying to sum up Joe Biden’s argument against Harris, who went after the former vice president for both his cordial relationship with segregationist senators and his opposition to busing programs that she said benefited her personally.
“I think ‘you had to be there’ was the message I think Biden was trying to use to explain his behavior with the segregationist senators, but you were there with regard to busing,” Matthews said. “And you talked in that debate about the hurt you felt when you heard him talking about his civil—in fact to some extent praising the civility of these old seggies,” he added using an oddly casual abbreviation. “What was the hurt?”
Harris explained that if the men Biden said he got along with had their way, she would not be a United States senator, nor would she be on the debate stage running for president. “Lester Holt would not have been asking questions on that stage,” she continued. “Barack Obama would not have been in the position to appoint Joe Biden vice president of the United States. So the consequences of their actions were very real and on the shoulders of a history in our country of really a very bad, awful, dark, dangerous, and lethal time.”
But “otherwise,” she said she has a “great deal of respect” for Biden and does not believe he is a “racist.”
Later, after explaining that he prefers the word “ethnicity” to “race,” Matthews asked the candidate, given the racism she was subject to as a child from the parents of her friends, “How did you come out of that and not have hatred towards white people generally?”
Whether it was intentional or not, those words directly echoed former Fox News host Glenn Beck’s assertion in 2009 that President Barack Obama had a “deep-seated hatred of white people.”
Seemingly taken aback, Harris, who is married to a white man, replied, “Most Americans do not conduct themselves that way, and most parents don’t conduct themselves that way, so there was no need to create a broad application because of that one experience. But we cannot deny that there are many children, black children in America who have had that experience.
Ultimately, the interview ended with Matthews asking Harris whether she thinks Biden is “finished after tonight.”
“No, I don’t think so,” she answered. “Listen, Vice President Biden has had a long career of dedicated public service, and he has done great things in his career, and I think he should be given credit for those things and for that work and for his dedication. I don’t think anyone can question his reason for doing what he does. I do believe that he cares about people, and he loves our country. So I don’t think he’s done, no.”
Asked how he can fix the problem she created for him Thursday night, Harris said that was up to his “advisers and pundits” to figure out.