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Former RNC chair Michael Steele: Harris exchange with Biden may hurt her support in black community

Former Republican National Committee (RNC) chairman Michael Steele said Monday that Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisWhat blue wave? A close look at Texas today tells of a different story A healthier planet and economy is worth fighting for Watch live: Harris gives remarks on the child tax credit MORE’s (D-Calif.) confrontation with former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenMilitary must better understand sexual assaults to combat them The Hill's Equilibrium — Presented by NextEra Energy — Tasmanian devil wipes out penguin population On The Money: Democrats make full-court press on expanded child tax credit | White House confident Congress will raise debt ceiling MORE over his civil rights record in last week's presidential debate could hurt her support within the black community.

“Top line it looks like she got a bump of six points,” Steele told Hill.TV, referring to a Morning Consult poll, which showed Harris tied with Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenBiden risks break with progressives on infrastructure The Memo: The center strikes back Centrists gain foothold in infrastructure talks; cyber attacks at center of Biden-Putin meeting MORE (D-Mass.) at 12 percent following Thursday’s debate.

"In the black community, it hurt her,” he added. “This was not something that I think she’s going to walk away from with a lot of black support.”

Steele predicts that this reaction could be age-related, saying he spoke with ten African-American voters across the country and found that the response to Harris’s attacks weren’t very favorable, particularly among older black women, who said "she done him wrong," Steele said.

"Younger ones were sort of mixed. They kind of liked the aggressiveness, but it’ll be interesting to see how this settles down," Steele said. 

Harris has defended challenging Biden over his comments on working with segregationist lawmakers and past opposition to school busing.

“It may make people uncomfortable to speak the truth about the history of our country, but we must speak the truth and we must agree that there not only is fact, that is the basis for these truths,” Harris told reports on Sunday. “But that we should recommit ourselves to also agreeing that these things should never happen again.”

During last week’s Democratic primary debate, Harris said she found it “hurtful” to hear Biden talk about two senators who “built their reputation and career on the segregation of race in this country.”

The California lawmaker went on to confront Biden’s opposition to federally mandated busing in the 1970s, saying she personally benefited from such busing.

"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," Harris said to Biden. "That little girl was me."

Biden called Harris's criticism a "mischaracterization" of his views. The following day, he sought to clarify his past stance, saying he believed that the issue should have been decided by states and that the courts, instead of the Education Department, should set the rules.

The exchange nevertheless was seen as a breakout moment for Harris, who has since received a boost in donations and support.

⁠—Tess Bonn