Harris, Biden set for rematch in night two of second Democratic debate

Key Points
  • Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris are set to rematch during night two of the second Democratic debates on Wednesday following a contentious first debate last month.
  • The former vice president and the California lawmaker have signaled ahead of the debate that they do not intend to pull punches, suggesting possible feuds over race, health care, or more personal matters.
  • The debate will begin at 8 p.m. ET and last about 2½ hours, according to debate host CNN. It will air on CNN and be streamed live on CNN.com.
Democratic presidential candidates former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) greet each other at the Democratic Presidential Debate at the Fox Theatre July 31, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan.
Scott Olson | Getty Images

Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris are set to rematch during night two of the second Democratic debates on Wednesday following a contentious first debate last month.

The former vice president and the California lawmaker have signaled ahead of the debate that they do not intend to pull punches, suggesting possible feuds over race, health care or more personal matters.

The debate will begin at 8 p.m. ET and last about 2½ hours, according to debate host CNN. It will air on CNN and be streamed live on CNN.com.

Biden and Harris sparred at the Miami debate in June over Biden's opposition as a senator to using busing as a tool for desegregation. Harris, who was in the 1970s among the first black students to be bused to a white school in Berkeley, California, criticized Biden's record in personal terms.

Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., who has zeroed in on Biden's record on race as well, is also likely to go on the attack. Booker has struggled to make waves thus far in the crowded primary field, though he has already qualified for the third debates scheduled for September.

"Joe Biden had more than 40 years to get this right. The proud architect of a failed system is not the right person to fix it," Booker said in a statement released earlier this month.

Also on stage with Biden, Harris and Booker, from left to right on stage, will be: Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo.; Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.; former Housing secretary Julian Castro; businessman Andrew Yang; Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii; Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Health care, which dominated the discussion during Tuesday night's debate, will also be a key focus.

Harris' campaign unveiled a health-care proposal on Monday that positions the candidate between the left-wing Medicare for All overhaul proposed by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and the more moderate approach favored by Biden.

The former vice president, who wrote an op-ed on health care published by CNN on Wednesday, has criticized Harris' health-care plan as a "have-it-every-which-way approach."

Wednesday night's debate comes a day after Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., seemed to band together to fend off attacks on Medicare for All and other progressive proposals from lesser-known candidates to their ideological right.

"We should stop using Republican talking points in order to talk with each other about how to best provide that health care," Warren said during the debate.

Wednesday night's debate may also provide opportunities for some of the candidates hovering under 2% in the polls to gain attention.

Gillibrand, whose campaign has struggled to get off the ground since its March launch, had ominously hinted that an opposition research dump may be in the works. She said this month: "We have Democratic candidates running for president right now who do not believe necessarily that it's a good idea that women work outside the home."

Inslee, who has made defeating climate change the centerpiece of his bid, has vowed to make the issue an element of the debate.

And Castro, who has championed a proposal to decriminalize migration, is expected to get grilled on that issue after calling on the Democratic field to join him during the last debate.

It is possible there will be surprises. On Tuesday, it was little-known former Maryland Rep. John Delaney who emerged as the tone-setter of the night.

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Progressives and moderates go head-to-head in second Democratic debates