News of Harris’s decision leaked to the media on Tuesday afternoon, surprising many observers who once viewed her as a favorite for the nomination. And just as the word started spreading, reporters caught Biden on the campaign trail and asked for his thoughts.
In a video posted by C-SPAN reporter Annie Anderson, Biden has a look of surprise on his face as he hears questions about Harris from a press scrum. Then Biden approached the microphones to respond.
“My reaction is she is a first-rate intellect, a first-rate candidate,” Biden said. “I have mixed emotions about it because she is really a solid, solid person and she is loaded with talent.”
This is @joebiden as reports came out that California Senator @KamalaHarris will be leaving the race today. Biden Cale’s her a “first rate candidate.” The news came out during this event and you can see the shock on Biden’s face. @cspan pic.twitter.com/tCVjRZoiIt— Annie Andersen (@Annie_Andersen) December 3, 2019
As Biden approached the cameras, you could hear him saying, “This is dangerous, man,” clearly recognizing the precariousness of commenting on Harris — a top foe on the trail — ending her campaign. Throughout the Democratic race, Harris and Biden have shared tense moments.
In one of the first explosive moments of the Democratic debates, Harris confronted Biden for working with segregationists in the Senate and his previous opposition to busing, a program to help desegregate schools that picked up black students and took them to majority-white schools while also picking up white students and taking them to majority-black schools.
Then, in the most recent debate, Biden and Harris shared another tense moment when Biden claimed to have the support of the only black woman elected to the Senate. Harris, a black woman in the Senate, interjected with “that’s not true,” before Biden could correct himself and say he meant the “first” black woman elected to the Senate.
Now, it appears the days of Biden-Harris clashes will be over. Harris told supporters that she was suspending her campaign because she did not see a reasonable path to the nomination and was running out of money. Recent press reports had depicted her campaign in disarray, but her decision to drop out was still a shock to many given that she had already qualified for the next Democratic debate.