Biden: I was not prepared for Harris to come at me the way she did on busing

Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenJimmy Carter: 'I hope there's an age limit' on presidency 2020 candidates keep fitness on track while on the trail Mark Mellman: The most important moment in history? MORE, in an interview that aired Friday, said  he was not prepared for Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisKavanaugh impeachment push hits Capitol buzz saw Mark Mellman: The most important moment in history? Biden leads in new national poll, Warren close behind in second place MORE (D-Calif.) to attack him the way she did on racial issues during their first Democratic primary debate. 

"I was prepared for them to come after me, but I wasn't prepared for the person coming at me the way she came at me," Biden told CNN's Chris Cuomo in an interview. 

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Harris and Biden went head-to-head last week when she confronted him on his past comments on working with segregationist senators and his record on busing during the forum last week. 

Biden defended his position on busing, which he said he has opposed for decades, saying Harris took it out of context. 

"You had overwhelming response from the African American community in my state," Biden said. "They were, they did not support it. They did not support it." 

Biden instead proposed to increase funding for low-income schools, as well as making preschool accessible at the age of 3. 

"Every child out there is capable, but they're living in circumstances that make it difficult," he said. "So what are we doing? We're sitting around here as if it's an insoluble problem."

The comments come after Biden defended his stance on busing on Thursday, telling reporters in Iowa that he does not have to "atone" for his record on the issue. 

“I don’t have to atone. My record stands for itself. I’ve never been accused of anybody by my state or when I’ve been running as not being an overwhelming supporter of civil rights and civil liberties,” he said. 

The former vice president has been working to defend his past comments and policies on race since the debates, which saw Harris get a boost in the polls.

A Reuters/Ipsos poll released Wednesday showed Harris overtaking fellow Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) for third place, while Biden's support slipped but remained at the top of the pack. 

While Biden has been a target for most of the Democrats running in the crowded field, his campaign has largely avoided directly attacking his primary opponents, instead focusing his fire on President TrumpDonald John TrumpJimmy Carter: 'I hope there's an age limit' on presidency White House fires DHS general counsel: report Trump to cap California trip with visit to the border MORE

"I get all this information about other people's past and what they've done and not done. And, you know, I am just not going to go there," he said.