2020 Democrats hold back on hitting Biden during first presidential debate

Joe BidenJoe BidenHillicon Valley: Biden calls on Facebook to change political speech rules | Dems demand hearings after Georgia election chaos | Microsoft stops selling facial recognition tech to police Trump finalizing executive order calling on police to use ‘force with compassion’ The Hill’s Campaign Report: Biden campaign goes on offensive against Facebook MORE remained conspicuously absent from the first night of the Democratic presidential primary debates as candidates declined to name the 2020 front-runner.

Many had speculated in the run-up to Wednesday night’s debate whether the 10 candidates who appeared onstage would take the opportunity to try to knock Biden.

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The former vice president has grappled with mounting criticism in recent days over comments he made last week praising his ability to work with two segregationist senators during his time in Congress.

Still, candidates instead opted to keep the debate’s focus between those in the room — and President TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate advances public lands bill in late-night vote Warren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases Esper orders ‘After Action Review’ of National Guard’s role in protests MORE — over a slate of policies ranging from health care to immigration. 

Biden’s campaign notably followed along closely with the event, tweeting several times in tandem with the moderators’ questions.

“Let’s be clear: We shouldn’t tear the Affordable Care Act down. We should build on it. The Biden Administration will give every American the right to choose a public option like Medicare to ensure everyone has access to the quality, affordable health care they deserve. #demdebate,” the campaign tweeted after a question was asked about health care. 

Biden is expected to take more hits when he takes center stage Thursday night for the second round of the presidential primary debates. He will appear next to Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersThe Hill’s 12:30 Report: Milley apologizes for church photo-op Harris grapples with defund the police movement amid veep talk Biden courts younger voters — who have been a weakness MORE (I-Vt.), who has been his most vocal critic among their fellow 2020 candidates as he tries to surpass the former vice president.

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