Protestors interrupted one of the final segments in Thursday night’s Democratic presidential primary debates as ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos asked former Vice President Joe Biden and his fellow candidates a final question on the “most significant professional setback” they’ve faced.
“Every president confronts crises, defeats and mistakes,” Stephanopoulos said. “What’s the most significant professional setback you’ve had to face, how did you recover from it and what did you learn from it?”
“I never count any professional setback I have as a serious setback,” Biden began.“There are things that are important, things that are unimportant —”
Shouts from the audience disrupted Biden’s response. Many observers noted that for viewers watching at home, their exact message was muffled and difficult to discern.
People in the room noted that the protesters were urging protection for recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), an Obama-era policy that shielded so-called Dreamers from deportation. Trump has repeatedly called the legality of DACA into question, including in a tweet last week.
Earlier in the debate, moderator and Univision anchor Jorge Ramos pressed Biden on deportations during the Obama administration. “Are you prepared to say tonight that you and President Obama made a mistake about deportations. Why should Latinos trust you?” Ramos asked.
“What Latinos should look at is comparing [Obama] to the president we have is outrageous,” Biden replied. “We didn’t lock people up in cages, we didn’t separate families. We didn’t do all of those things.”
They said, “We are DACA recipients. Our lives are at risk.”— Jess Davidson (@DavidsonJess22) September 13, 2019
The Associated Press fact check deemed Biden’s comment “wrong.”
“The ‘cages’ — chain-link enclosures inside border facilities where migrants have been temporarily housed, separated by sex and age — were built and used by the Obama administration,” the AP noted. “The Trump administration has been using the same facilities as the Obama administration.”
Biden went on to tout the DACA program, which Obama enacted by executive order in 2012.
“No. 2,” he said, “this a president who came along with a DACA program. No one had ever done that before.”
Ramo said Biden didn’t answer the question. “Did you make a mistake with those deportations?” he reiterated.
“The president did the best that was able to be done at the time,” Biden responded.
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