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For first time, Biden calls Obama deportations 'big mistake'

Former Vice President Joe Biden said it took the Obama administration 'too long' to get its immigration policy right.

LAS VEGAS — Presidential candidate Joe Biden says it was a “big mistake” for the Obama administration to have deported hundreds of thousands of people without criminal records.

Biden says in a wide-ranging, sometimes contentious interview with Univision anchor Jorge Ramos that it took the Obama administration “too long” to get its immigration policy right. Biden was vice president during the administration's eight years.

During the interview, Ramos also confronted Biden on migrant children in cages during the Obama administration. 

"We kept them safe," Biden said. "Look how quickly we got them out and got them back to families." He added that they had to detain children since they came into the U.S. unaccompanied. 

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The interview comes as Biden campaigns in Nevada ahead of that state's Feb. 22 caucuses. It's the first nominating contest to feature a significant number of Latinos.

He was in Las Vegas taking on Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders' gun votes in fiery speech.

Biden, standing on a stage roughly 1,000 feet from the scene of the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, took on White House rival Sanders on Saturday night for his past vote to exempt gun manufacturers from liability for shootings. 

The former vice president devoted the majority of his speech at a Democratic gala on the Vegas Strip to deliver a fiery charge against the National Rifle Association and gun manufacturers, vowing to hold gun makers accountable if elected president.

South Carolina’s leading congressional Democrat says he’s carefully watching efforts by several campaigns aiming to cut into Biden’s support in the state.

House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn told CNN on Sunday that California climate activist and billionaire Tom Steyer, who has been campaigning heavily to black voters, is doing “an incredible job.” Clyburn says Steyer has money and it “makes a difference.”

Clyburn also said former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg “is doing very good.”

Clyburn, who had previously said Buttigieg may have trouble with older black voters because he is gay, said Sunday, “We mature. And I think their political calculations are changing quite a bit.”

Clyburn‘s grandson is working for Buttigieg‘s South Carolina campaign.

Biden has led polling in the state, the first to feature a heavily black electorate. But recent surveys show his support in that demographic falling nationally.

Asked directly if South Carolina is Biden’s “firewall,” where success or failure could make or break his campaign in the states that follow, Clyburn said, “Well, I don’t know. We will see.”

Credit: AP
Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden at a caucus night campaign rally on Monday, Feb. 3, 2020, in Des Moines, Iowa, with Jill Biden. (AP Photo/John Locher)