Biden fires back at Sanders on Social Security

Biden fires back at Sanders on Social Security
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Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden campaign cancels fundraiser with Mueller prosecutor Twitter joins Democrats to boost mail-in voting — here's why The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - George Floyd's death sparks protests, National Guard activation MORE on Wednesday accused Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersGloves come off as Democrats fight for House seat in California Senate Democrats pump brakes on new stimulus checks The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Unemployment claims now at 41 million with 2.1 million more added to rolls; Topeka mayor says cities don't have enough tests for minorities and homeless communities MORE (I-Vt.) and his presidential campaign of taking statements he'd made about Social Security decades ago out of context to hammer him on the issue.

"I find it amazing that we go back and look at statements and many of them, most of them [are] taken out of context of 10, 30, 35 years ago," Biden said during an interview on MSNBC's "Morning Joe."

The Democratic front-runner then took the chance to point out some of Sanders's past votes on gun control.

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"It's like me going back and pointing out how Bernie voted against the Brady Bill five times while I was trying to get it passed when he was in the House, or how he voted to protect gun manufacturers," he continued. "He's made up for that, he's indicated that was [the] past." 

When asked whether he would cut Social Security benefits as president, Biden responded, "No, no, no, no." 

"My support for Social Security has been solid my entire career," Biden said. "I did join with a lot of other Democrats to make sure we fix Social Security." 

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Sanders and Biden are at the top of the Democratic primary in national polls, and their attacks on one another appear to be stepping up ahead of next month's Iowa caucuses. 

A CNN national poll released on Wednesday showed Sanders leading the field for the first time, with 27 percent support. Biden came in second place at 24 percent. Sanders's lead in the poll is within the margin of error.

The Sanders campaign recently released a video that suggests Biden pushed for making cuts to Social Security while he was in the Senate.

The video includes Biden saying that Medicare and Social Security should be on the table as part of efforts to reduce the deficit. Some of the comments were from 1995 and from 2007, when Biden was running for president.

Sanders has campaigned heavily on expanding government programs, including Social Security. 

Biden's campaign argues that Sanders is playing loose with the facts, including the sharing on social media of another video of Biden talking about former House Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanTwitter joins Democrats to boost mail-in voting — here's why Lobbying world John Ratcliffe is the right choice for director of national intelligence — and for America MORE (R-Wis.) and the tax code. The Sanders campaign says that video shows Biden arguing for Social Security cuts.

Biden's team argues that the former vice president was mocking Ryan and saying that if tax cuts on the wealthy are instituted, it will put pressure on Congress to make changes to Social Security. Biden was opposing the Ryan tax cuts partly because he was worried about protecting Social Security.

The battle of Social Security further escalated on Tuesday, with the former vice president's campaign releasing an ad calling the attacks "flat-out wrong." 

“Democrats, we can’t launch dishonest attacks against fellow Democrats. We have to beat Donald Trump,” the narrator said in the clip. “Now Bernie’s campaign has unleashed a barrage of negative attacks on Joe Biden that even accused Joe Biden of supporting ... cuts to Social Security.”

“Bernie’s campaign is not telling the truth. Joe Biden has repeatedly voted to save Social Security,” the narrator adds. “Bernie’s negative attacks won’t change the truth: Joe Biden is still the strongest Democrat to beat Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpMinneapolis erupts for third night, as protests spread, Trump vows retaliation Stocks open mixed ahead of Trump briefing on China The island that can save America MORE.” 

The Sanders campaign hit back shortly after, saying the ad was meant to distort Biden's record. 

“Joe Biden just released the first negative ad of the 2020 Democratic primary, and let’s be clear about why: he’s trying to distort his decades-long record of proposing and voting for cuts to Social Security benefits for millions of people. Joe Biden is no defender of Social Security, and a negative ad won’t help him outrun his record,” Faiz Shakir, Sanders’s campaign manager, said in a statement.

The fight over Social Security is the latest in a series of attacks between the Biden and Sanders campaigns. 

The tension between the two campaigns escalated on Monday after Sanders campaign surrogate Zephyr Teachout published an op-ed in The Guardian accusing Biden of corruption. 

A Sanders campaign press release circulated the op-ed to supporters and the press with the headline, "Joe Biden has a big corruption problem."

Sanders later apologized for the op-ed, telling CBS News that he did not believe Biden was corrupt "in any way." 

Updated at 10:57 a.m.