Swalwell urges Biden to 'pass the torch' to younger generation

Rep. Eric SwalwellEric Michael SwalwellDemocratic lawmaker: Expelling Turkey from NATO 'should be on the table' Top State Department official arrives for testimony in impeachment probe 2020 Presidential Candidates MORE (D-Calif.) took a direct swipe at former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenWarren defends, Buttigieg attacks in debate that shrank the field Five takeaways from the Democratic debate in Ohio New study: Full-scale 'Medicare for All' costs trillion over 10 years MORE at the second of the first two Democratic presidential primary debates Thursday night, urging the 76-year-old to “pass the torch” to a younger generation. 

“I was six years old when a presidential candidate came to the California democratic convention and said it’s time to pass the torch to a new generation of Americans. That candidate was then-Sen. Joe Biden. Joe Biden was right when he said it was time to pass the torch to a new generation of Americans 32 years ago, he’s still right today,” Swalwell said.

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“If we’re going to solve the issues of automation, pass the torch," the California lawmaker continued. "If we’re going to solve the issues of climate chaos, pass the torch. If we’re going to solve the issue of student loan debt, pass the torch. If we’re going to end the gun violence for families who are fearful of sending their kids to school, pass the torch.” 

Biden responded by pivoting to his education platform, underlining aspects like universal pre-kindergarten and free community college.

“There’s a lot we can do, but we have to make continuing education available for everyone so that everyone can compete in the 21st century,” he said. 

The exchange marked the first direct jab at Biden in a debate that was expected to be filled with shots against him in an attempt to cut him down from his front-runner status. 

The two-dozen strong primary field has thus far taken mostly veiled shots at the former vice president, trying to take a bite out of his substantial leads in national and statewide polls without alienating his supporters or casting themselves as going negative.