Kamala Harris Previously Confronted Biden Over Segregation Record and Co-Sponsored Medicare for All With Bernie Sanders

Former Democratic presidential candidate Senator Kamala Harris endorsed and praised former Vice President Joe Biden for their party's presidential nomination on Sunday, after previously criticizing the candidate's record on segregation and being a co-sponsor of his rival Senator Bernie Sanders' signature legislative proposal, Medicare for All.

Harris, who represents California, posted a video endorsement of Biden on Twitter on Sunday morning. "We need a leader who really does care about the people and can therefore unify the people," the senator said in the clip. "And I believe Joe can do that," she added, becoming the fifth former Democratic presidential contender to back Biden's campaign over that of Sanders.

The senator's endorsement came despite Sanders winning the Super Tuesday primary in the state she represents, which is also the most populous in the nation. Biden came in second, about 7 percent behind the senator from Vermont.

But Harris had previously been one of the most vocal critics of Biden's record on opposing busing to integrate schools. She'd also strongly criticized the former vice president for speaking positively about segregationist senators, whom he proudly noted he'd worked with on legislation during his time in Congress decades ago.

Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden
Former Vice President Joe Biden, Senator Bernie Sanders (i-Vermont) and Senator Kamala Harris (D-California) participate in the Democratic Presidential Debate at Tyler Perry Studios November 20 in Atlanta, Georgia Alex Wong/Getty

"You also worked ... to oppose busing," Harris, who is black, said in remarks directed at Biden during a June debate in Miami. "And, you know, there was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public schools, and she was bused to school every day. And that little girl was me."

During the same debate, Harris took aim at Biden for remarks he had made about working alongside segregationist lawmakers during his tenure in the Senate from 1974 to 2009.

"It's personal and it was hurtful to hear you talk about the reputations of two United States Senators who built their reputations and career on the segregation of race in this country," she said.

In remarks at a fundraiser shortly before the debate, Biden had spoken favorably about working with the segregationist lawmakers decades before as a young senator.

"I was in a caucus with James O. Eastland. He never called me 'boy,' he always called me 'son,'" Biden said. "Well guess what? At least there was some civility. We got things done. We didn't agree on much of anything. We got things done. We got it finished."

Harris noted at the time that she did not believe Biden was racist, but found his comments hurtful. Biden argued the senator was mischaracterizing his words and previous policy positions. "I do not praise racists. That is not true," he said.

The senator from California was also a co-sponsor of Sanders unsuccessful Medicare for All Act of 2019. "Health care should be a right for everyone in this country, not a privilege for the few," she said in a press release last April, announcing her backing of the legislation. "Medicare is the most popular health plan in the country because it works. Medicare for All finally makes sure every American has affordable, comprehensive health care," she noted.

While Sanders, who is currently a close second for the Democratic nomination, has continued to push for universal health care, as he has for decades, Biden does not support the policy. Instead, Biden has proposed expanding the Affordable Care Act, known commonly as Obamacare, and creating a buy-in option so more Americans can access Medicare.

Representatives for Harris did not immediately respond to Newsweek's request for comment.