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Biden may have a difficult time distancing himself from 1994 crime law—he once called it the 'Biden crime bill'

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President Trump has already targeted Biden on the issue

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Former Vice President Joe Biden hasn't yet responded to President Donald Trump's criticism of Biden's support for a 1994 crime law that contributed to increased incarceration rates. If or when he does, Biden will certainly have to address past comments proudly taking ownership of the law.

The Hill reported Tuesday that, during a 2007 Democratic presidential debate, Biden used his extensive role in getting the bill passed to attack then-Republican candidate Rudy Giuliani.

"He is genuinely not qualified to be president," Biden said of the former New York City mayor. "Here's a man who brags about how he made the city safe. It was the Biden crime bill that became the Clinton crime bill that allowed him to do that."

Biden was the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee when the law passed under former President Bill Clinton. Clinton has since apologized for signing the bill, admitting that it exacerbated the problem of mass incarceration.

Twelve years after those comments during his last unsuccessful run for president, Biden finds himself as the early front-runner in the Democratic field for the 2020 nomination. However, the politics of criminal justice have changed significantly, and the most significant bipartisan achievement of President Trump's first term was a law seeking to reverse the damage from the 1994 law.

Earlier this month, Biden told a New Hampshire audience that the crime bill "did not generate mass incarceration." Biden has said laws set by individual states dictating mandatory minimum sentences for drug and nonviolent crimes was the main problem.

President Trump, surely understanding that Biden could very well be his opponent in November 2020, has highlighted the negative perception the 1994 law could cause Biden, saying "African Americans will not be able to vote for you."

"I, on the other hand, was responsible for Criminal Justice Reform, which had tremendous support, & helped fix the bad 1994 Bill!" President Trump wrote on Twitter on Monday.

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