Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenManchin lays down demands for child tax credit: report Abrams targets Black churchgoers during campaign stops for McAuliffe in Virginia Pentagon, State Department square off on Afghanistan accountability MORE hammered former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegButtigieg says delay in climate action will cost lives amid reports of Manchin roadblock Sunday shows - Buttigieg warns supply chain issues could stretch to next year Bill Kristol: Buttigieg entitled to call Tucker Carlson a 'repulsive bigot' MORE and Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersPressure grows for breakthrough in Biden agenda talks Sanders, Manchin escalate fight over .5T spending bill Sanders blames media for Americans not knowing details of Biden spending plan MORE (I-Vt.) by name Wednesday after his two 2020 competitors appeared to have surged ahead of him in Iowa’s caucuses Monday night.
Speaking to a crowd in Somersworth, N.H., Biden worked to cast the 38-year-old former mayor as too inexperienced to risk putting him up against President TrumpDonald TrumpRobert Gates says 'extreme polarization' is the greatest threat to US democracy Cassidy says he won't vote for Trump if he runs in 2024 Schiff says holding Bannon in criminal contempt 'a way of getting people's attention' MORE, and Sanders, a self-avowed democratic socialist, he argued was a risk to down-ballot Democrats in tight races.
“Mayor Pete likes to attack me as well. He’s a good man. Calls me part of the old, failed Washington,” Biden said before listing off accomplishments achieved under the Obama administration. The former vice president mentioned the passing of the Affordable Care Act, the Paris climate accords and the Iran nuclear deal.
“Is he really saying the Obama-Biden administration was a failure? Pete, just say it out loud.”
Buttigieg has gone after Biden and several other 2020 candidates, painting them as byproducts of Washington as he works to burnish his outsider appeal.
However, Biden tried to flip the script, saying it would take a candidate with experience to win in November.
“I do believe it’s a risk, to be just straight up with you, for this party to nominate someone who’s never held an office higher than a mayor of 100,000 people in Indiana,” said the former vice president. “He has enormous potential, but I think we need a president who can bring us together, a president who can unite the party and unite the country.”
Biden took an ideological tack when he attacked Sanders, saying his progressive stances would be too risky in an election cycle in which the GOP is eager to pin all Democrats as too far to the left.
“We need a nominee who can help Democrats up and down the ticket,” Biden said. “But if Sen. Sanders is the nominee for the party, every Democrat in America up and down the ballot in blue states, red states, purple states, in easy districts and competitive ones, every Democrat will have to carry the label Sen. Sanders has chosen for himself.”
“He calls himself a democratic socialist. Well, we’re already seeing what Donald Trump is going to do with that,” he added. “Donald Trump is desperate to pin the socialist label … on our party. We can’t let him do that.”
Biden also repeated attacks on Sanders’s “Medicare for All” health care plan that would eliminate private insurance and introduce a single-payer system, saying the costs would be too high and there was no existing support for the plan in Washington.
“Now Sen. Sanders has talked about the single-payer, Medicare for All health care system in this country for 30 years. To his credit, he’s been consistent. But he hasn’t moved the ball a single solitary inch,” he said.
“How’s it going to be paid for?” Biden added. “I promise you, the middle class will pay for it.”
Neither Buttigieg nor Sanders’s campaigns immediately responded to requests for comment from The Hill.
The comments come as Biden works to rebuild momentum in the aftermath of the Iowa caucuses, where preliminary results showed the former vice president in fourth place, roughly 10 points behind Buttigieg and Sanders.
Polling shows Biden running in second place in New Hampshire, which will hold its primary Tuesday.
The former vice president admitted he took a “gut punch” in Iowa, but maintained he is in the race for the long haul.
“I’m going to fight for this nomination, I’m going to fight for it here in New Hampshire and in Nevada and then in South Carolina and beyond because I know there are an awful lot of folks out there who write off this campaign,” he said. “But I’ve got news for them: I’m not going anywhere.”