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Kamala Harris did not call Joe Biden a racist on the debate stage

August 11, 2020 GMT

CLAIM: California Sen. Kamala Harris called former Vice President Joe Biden a racist when they were facing off as potential Democratic candidates for president in 2019.

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. Harris criticized Biden on certain topics related to race during a debate in June 2019, but she prefaced those remarks with “I do not believe you are a racist.”

THE FACTS: In the moments after Biden announced he had selected Harris as his running mate in the 2020 presidential election, social media users seized on a heated exchange between the two politicians during a debate in Miami in June 2019. 

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“So @JoeBiden just picked @KamalaHarris for his VP... She literally called him a racist! 

#wakeupamerica,” wrote one conservative personality in a tweet reposted nearly 3,000 times in an hour.

Similar claims were made by prominent political figures including Katrina Pierson, a senior adviser to the Trump campaign, in her response to Biden’s running mate pick.

These claims are false. During the debate, Harris condemned Biden for working with segregationists in the Senate and for opposing aspects of mandatory busing for school desegregation. However, she began her critique by telling Biden “I do not believe you are a racist.”

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This is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.

Here’s more information on Facebook’s fact-checking program: https://www.facebook.com/help/1952307158131536