2020 Democrats hold back on hitting Biden during first presidential debate

2020 Democrats hold back on hitting Biden during first presidential debate
© Getty Images

Joe BidenJoe BidenTrump says lawmakers should censure Schiff Schiff says committees will eventually make impeachment inquiry transcripts public Trump threat lacks teeth to block impeachment witnesses 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.

ADVERTISEMENT

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 TrumpGOP congressman slams Trump over report that U.S. bombed former anti-ISIS coalition headquarters US to restore 'targeted assistance' to Central American countries after migration deal Trump says lawmakers should censure Schiff 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 SandersOvernight Health Care — Presented by National Taxpayers Union — House Dems change drug pricing bill to address progressive concerns | Top Republican rejects Dem proposal on surprise medical bills | Vaping group launches Fox News ad blitz Democrats have reason to worry after the last presidential debate Krystal Ball on Sanders debate performance: 'He absolutely hit it out of the park' MORE (I-Vt.), who has been his most vocal critic among their fellow 2020 candidates as he tries to surpass the former vice president.