2020 Democrats hold back on hitting Biden during first presidential debate

2020 Democrats hold back on hitting Biden during first presidential debate
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Joe BidenJoe BidenHouse unravels with rise of 'Les Enfants Terrible' Sanders to call on 2020 Democrats to reject money from drug, health insurance industries Harris tops Biden in California 2020 poll 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 TrumpPompeo changes staff for Russia meeting after concerns raised about top negotiator's ties: report House unravels with rise of 'Les Enfants Terrible' Ben Carson: Trump is not a racist and his comments were not racist 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 SandersSanders to call on 2020 Democrats to reject money from drug, health insurance industries The hidden connection between immigration and health care: Our long-term care crisis Harris tops Biden in California 2020 poll MORE (I-Vt.), who has been his most vocal critic among their fellow 2020 candidates as he tries to surpass the former vice president.