01:33 - Source: CNN
Biden and de Blasio square off over Obama-era deportations
Washington CNN —  

Former Vice President Joe Biden said Thursday he was surprised by the “degree of the criticism” against former President Barack Obama at Wednesday’s CNN Democratic debate.

Asked about attacks from 2020 rivals, Biden told reporters in Detroit, “I expected it.”

But, he added, “I was a little surprised how much the incoming was about Barack.”

Some Democratic candidates on Wednesday night raised Obama’s immigration policies and the millions of deportations that occurred during his presidency as a way to challenge Biden, who has used his time as Obama’s vice president as a centerpiece of his pitch to progressives. Biden fired back at candidates, questioning their record while defending his, despite his frequent promises early in his campaign to not speak ill of fellow Democrats.

On Thursday, Biden said the change in strategy was because he was provoked.

“Because I responded,” Biden said. “I hope the next debate we can talk about our answers to fix the things that Trump has broken, not how Barack Obama made all these mistakes. He didn’t.”

During the debate, Biden was asked to respond to the millions of deportations that occurred under the Obama administration and took hits for his work on a 1994 crime bill as well as his vote for the Hyde amendment, which bans federal funds from being used to pay for abortions. Biden later reversed his position on the amendment.

At one point in the night, New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand criticized Biden for voting against expanding the child care tax credit in 1981, but mischaracterized an op-ed he wrote by suggesting he was advocated against women working outside the home.

“Look, folks, there’s a lot of things everybody has done in their past and votes that no longer have a context today,” Biden said Thursday. “They’re taken out of context. And I just wanted to make the point that some of these assertions being made were absolutely – how can I say it nicely? – not true and taken out of context.”

CNN’s Arlette Saenz, Sarah Mucha and Maeve Reston contributed to this report.