Speed Reads

2020 Democratic debates

Cory Booker goes after Biden on marijuana — and lands Biden in a string of gaffes

Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) has a wake- and bake-up call for former Vice President Joe Biden.

A few days ago, Biden set himself apart from the rest of the top 2020 Democrats by calling marijuana a "gateway drug" and saying "legalization is a mistake." Booker brought that comment up in Wednesday's Democratic primary debate, saying while he has "a lot of respect" for Biden, when he heard that remark, he "thought you might have been high when you said it."

After his well-timed zing, Booker explained why he had a problem with Biden's remark. "Marijuana in our country is already legal for privileged people," he said, pointing out how black and brown people are disproportionately hurt by current drug policies.

Biden immediately got heated — and slipped into a string of slips of the tongue. He clarified that he does support decriminalizing marijuana as part of his presidential platform, and that no one should be in jail for pot possession. And then he pivoted to how that ties to his support from black voters, saying he "come[s] out of the black community" before quickly adding "in terms of my support." And then he declared he had the endorsement of the "the only African American woman that had ever been elected to the United States Senate" — with Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) standing just a few feet away.