Kamala Harris’s Moment, Voting Rights, Yet Another Candidate: This Week in the 2020 Race

The first 2020 debates yield some surprises, the Supreme Court rules on gerrymandering, and the field of Democratic candidates grows to 24.

Every Saturday morning, we’re publishing “This Week in the 2020 Race”: a quick way to follow the presidential campaign and the field of 24 candidates for the Democratic nomination. Trust us, we know how hard it is to keep up.

Kamala Harris dominates the debates
Twenty candidates took the stage this week for the first Democratic debates, and the biggest moment belonged to Ms. Harris, the senator from California.

Ms. Harris, appearing on Night 2, was a commanding presence from start to finish: casting herself as the proverbial adult in the room while the other candidates were shouting over one another and, by many viewers’ assessment, getting the best of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. in an intensely personal exchange on race.

After a methodical, almost prosecutorial buildup and an instantly quotable interjection — “As the only black person on this stage, I would like to speak on the issue of race” — Ms. Harris confronted Mr. Biden over his recent nostalgic recollection of working with two segregationist senators.

“You also worked with them to oppose busing,” she said. “And, you know, there was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public schools, and she was bused to school every day. And that little girl was me.”

Mr. Biden accused her of misrepresenting his position, defended his record on civil rights and — in a dig at Ms. Harris’s former profession — said he had chosen to be a public defender, not a prosecutor. But, as our colleagues reported on Friday, prominent Democrats think he emerged from the debate bruised.

You can find the biggest takeaways from the debates here. For more on Night 2, read our full recap here. See what veteran campaign strategists thought here.

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