Days ahead of the New Hampshire primary, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden ramped up his attacks on former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, pointedly stating that the surging presidential hopeful “is no Barack Obama.”
Buttigieg, meanwhile, responded in kind on Sunday, sniping back that Obama’s former veep also was not on the 44th president’s level.
In the wake of his weak fourth-place finish in Iowa, Biden has noticeably taken aim at Buttigieg, who is surging in New Hampshire following his strong showing in the Iowa caucuses. This includes a recent campaign ad slamming Buttigieg’s relative lack of experience while touting Biden’s decades of political accomplishments.
Shortly after Friday night’s New Hampshire debate, in which Biden took shots at Buttigieg for complaining about the “politics of the past,” the ex-veep seemed to take issue with the 38-year-old ex-mayor attempting to compare himself to Obama. (Something Saturday Night Live brutally mocked Buttigieg for over this weekend.)
“I think, you know, being a mayor of a town smaller than Manchester is not quite like being a United States senator from the state of Illinois—even though it was only for a short amount of time,” Biden told ABC on Friday evening. “Barack's experience was much wider as well … I know Barack Obama, he’s [Pete’s] no Barack Obama. He's a rare breed, Barack Obama.”
During an interview with ABC’s This Week that aired on Sunday morning, Biden continued to take it to Buttigieg, insisting that he wasn’t ready to be president. Host George Stephanopoulos, meanwhile, noted that Biden said the same thing about Obama in 2007 when they were both running for president while questioning his attacks on Buttigieg.
“I didn’t attack Pete,” Biden contended. “He’s been attacking me. I think he has completely misunderstood or misrepresented my record. I’ve done great deal. I have gotten a lot done both as a senator and as vice president. He speaks about being ready. We bailed out his city.”
Asked why he thinks nominating Buttigieg would be a risk, Biden credited the former mayor for being a “smart guy” but added that he has merely been the mayor of a small city.
“Does he know any of the foreign leaders?” Biden wondered aloud. “Barack Obama was a different story. Barack Obama came from a large state, a United States senator, he ran before, he’s been involved in international— he had a clear vision of what he thought the world should look like and so on.”
In a subsequent interview with This Week, Buttigieg fired back while taking some digs at Biden.
“He’s right, I’m not Barack Obama,” Buttigieg asserted. “Neither is he.”
“This isn’t 2008, it’s 2020,” he added. “This election is about where our country is headed next and of course how to defeat Donald Trump. What I’m offering now and the reason we have been able to succeed so far, a sense of belonging, pulling together a coalition that not only will defeat Donald Trump but by a big enough margin.”
Stephanopoulos, meanwhile, pointed out that the former mayor’s coalition doesn’t include a sizable amount of black voters at this point, a point that Biden made earlier when he said that Buttigieg has “not been able to unify the African-American community.”
“I’ll have to work to earn that vote just as did in South Bend,” Buttigieg answered. “I returned to office by a multiracial coalition. Now, I know especially heading into the South, I’m now getting a second look from a lot of voters who frankly weren’t sure we were competitive in the first place.”