Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden says crime bills he supported more than two decades ago, which adopted a tough-on-crime stance, were mistakes.
During the final presidential debate on Thursday, President Donald Trump pressed the former vice president on his support of the 1994 crime bill, and several bills in the 1980s that — escalated the war on drugs — which critics charge contributed to mass incarcerations.
Biden said, “It was a mistake. I’ve been trying to change it since then. Particularly the portion on cocaine. That’s why I’ve been arguing that, in fact, we should not send anyone to jail for a pure drug offense.”
“But why didn’t he get it done? See, it’s all talk no action with these politicians. Why didn’t you get it done? ‘That’s what I’m going to do when I become president.’ You were vice president along with Obama as your president, your leader, for eight years. Why didn’t you get it done?” Trump asked.
Biden shot back, “We got a lot of it done.”
He went on to claim that the number of federal prisoners decreased by 38,000 under Obama’s tenure.
“But we began the process. We began the process. We lost an election. That’s why I’m running to win back that election and change his terrible policies,” Biden said.
Trump asked again, “I just ask one question, why didn’t you do it in the eight years? A short time ago. Why didn’t you do it?”
“Because we had a Republican Congress,” Biden said as he paused for about five seconds. “That’s the answer.”
Watch the video below:
[email protected] admits that crime bills he once supported were a 'mistake,' and President Trump brands him a typical 'all talk' politician. #Debates2020 https://t.co/VlT7z8drtO pic.twitter.com/QGp1UAjUKd— Newsmax (@newsmax) October 23, 2020
“Well, you gotta talk them into it, Joe,” Trump retorted. “Sometimes, you gotta talk them into it … like I did with criminal justice reform.”
Trump referred to the 2018 bipartisan First Steps Act, which is designed to reduce federal prison sentences, which was passed while Republicans still control both chambers of Congress.
While Biden blamed Republicans for the failure to pass a criminal justice reform bill, he has cast himself as a moderate politician who will be able to reach across the aisle and make deals with Republicans if he wins the presidency.