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Pence: Biden, 2020 Dems are 'advocating a socialist agenda'

Vice President Pence hammered former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenAtlanta mayor won't run for reelection South Carolina governor to end pandemic unemployment benefits in June Airplane pollution set to soar with post-pandemic travel boom MORE and other leading 2020 Democratic presidential contenders as “advocating a socialist agenda.”

“I think the choice that we face in the country today is a choice between freedom and socialism, increasingly. President TrumpDonald TrumpVeteran accused in alleged border wall scheme faces new charges Arizona Republicans to brush off DOJ concern about election audit FEC drops investigation into Trump hush money payments MORE has been advocating an agenda that’s built on the principles of freedom in the marketplaces, lower taxes, less regulation, more access to energy, better, fair trade deals,” Pence told CNBC on Friday.

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“But increasingly, whether it be Joe Biden, whether it be Bernie SandersBernie SandersSanders on Cheney drama: GOP is an 'anti-democratic cult' Briahna Joy Gray: Biden campaign promises will struggle if Republicans win back Congress Biden backs COVID-19 vaccine patent waivers MORE, whether it be Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenHillicon Valley: Broadband companies funded fake net neutrality comments, investigation finds | Twitter rolls out tip feature | Google to adopt 'hybrid work week' Warren: Trump is 'a danger to democracy' Biden backs COVID-19 vaccine patent waivers MORE and others in their party, they’re advocating a socialist agenda of more government, higher taxes and the same tired policies that created the malaise of the last administration where you saw less than 2 percent economic growth,” Pence said.

Biden, who entered the race for the Democratic nomination last week, is widely seen as a centrist in a field dominated by progressives.

Since launching his campaign, Biden has hammered Trump on the campaign trail, attacking the GOP’s 2017 tax cut plan, which he says mainly benefits the wealthy.

The Biden campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill regarding Pence’s remarks.

The former vice president is seen by conservatives as one of the stronger threats to the president among the more than 20 Democratic contenders as he angles his appeal toward wooing working class voters in the Rust Belt who historically voted Democratic but supported Trump in 2016. 

Trump and other Republicans have sought to attack Democrats as "socialists," attacking proposals from the progressive wing such as "Medicare for All" and the Green New Deal. 

“I want you, everybody in this room and your friends and your neighbors, I want you to put socialism on trial. That’s what I’m asking you to do,” White House adviser Larry KudlowLarry KudlowMORE said in February. “I don’t want us to stand idly by. I don’t want to let this stuff fester, I want it challenged, I want it debated, I want it rebutted, and I want to convict socialism.”