Buttigieg Labels Biden a Washington Insider, Adding Fuel to Feud

(Bloomberg) -- Pete Buttigieg on Saturday night continued to fire back at Joe Biden, suggesting his presidential rival is a Washington insider out of touch with middle America.

“Some are asking: ‘What business does the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, have seeking the highest office in the land?’” Buttigieg said at a Democratic Party dinner in Manchester, New Hampshire. “Americans in small rural towns in industrial communities and in pockets of our country’s biggest cities are tired of being reduced to a punchline by Washington politicians and ready for somebody to take their voice to the American capital.”

Buttigieg Labels Biden a Washington Insider, Adding Fuel to Feud

Buttigieg was one of 10 Democratic candidates who delivered remarks at the McIntyre-Shaheen 100 Club Dinner in Manchester, one of the last opportunities for the contenders to make their pitches to New Hampshire voters before the state’s primary on Tuesday.

Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders emerged from the first nominating contest in Iowa on Monday atop the Democratic field. In New Hampshire, a survey for CNN by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center showed Sanders in the lead with 28%, followed by Buttigieg at 21%.

Buttigieg and Biden had traded barbs throughout the day as Biden, 77, assailed the 38-year-old former South Bend mayor for his relative inexperience and rejected comparisons of Buttigieg to Barack Obama.

Buttigieg Labels Biden a Washington Insider, Adding Fuel to Feud

“Oh, come on, man. This guy’s not a Barack Obama,” Biden snapped at a reporter who asked about the comparison earlier Saturday. He also said that Democrats would put their party “at risk if we nominate someone who’s never held a higher office than mayor of South Bend, Indiana.”

Biden is under pressure to revive his campaign after his fourth-place finish in the Iowa caucuses. He is running a distant third in most New Hampshire polls.

The former vice president released a harsh ad early Saturday that juxtaposes his long history of public service with Buttigieg’s relatively short municipal experience. The ad highlights Biden’s work on the Affordable Care Act and the Iran nuclear deal in contrast to Buttigieg’s mayoral accomplishments getting lights installed under a bridge and reducing regulations for pet chip scanners.

In his comments at the dinner Saturday night, Biden didn’t mention any of his rivals, reserving his fire for President Donald Trump. He also recalled spending Saturday morning giving food to needy families and the stalled effort to renew the Violence Against Women Act, pegging the country’s struggles on its current leadership.

“I’ve lost a lot in my life,” he said, mentioning the loss of his wife and daughter in a 1972 car accident and of his elder son to cancer in 2015, and also hinting at his fourth place finish in Iowa. “I’ll be damned if I’m going to stand by and lose this election to this man,” he said in a reference to Trump.

Buttigieg Labels Biden a Washington Insider, Adding Fuel to Feud

Elizabeth Warren, who is running in fourth place in New Hampshire polls, sought to convince the Democrats gathered at the dinner that her campaign would persevere. She reminded the crowd that Friday marked the three-year anniversary of the day she fought Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on the Senate floor to try to block the confirmation of Senator Jeff Sessions as U.S. Attorney General.

“Mitch McConnell said those words that women put on t-shirts, have embroidered on pillows and have tattooed on their arms,” Warren said as the crowd cheered. “Nevertheless, she persisted.”

Instead of pitching any of the plans that she has made the theme of her campaign, Warren sought to draw sharp distinctions with her 2020 rivals, by highlighting that her presidential bid was not shaped by consultants or funded by high-dollar donors, a veiled swipe at her moderate rivals Buttigieg and Biden.

Warren also tried to address any concerns about whether she could defeat Trump, one of the main concerns of Democratic voters as they look for a 2020 nominee.

“There are a lot of people right now who are worried that this fight against Donald Trump might be unwinnable,” Warren said. “But I’ve been winning unwinnable fights pretty much all my life.”

Warren enjoys an advantage in the state of New Hampshire as the senator from neighboring Massachusetts.

Sanders, who also comes from a neighboring state, Vermont, won New Hampshire in 2016. In his remarks at the dinner, he urged the state’s voters to come through for him again on Tuesday.

“I want to thank New Hampshire,” he said. “I want to thank New Hampshire for helping to lead the political revolution that began four years ago and now is the time to complete that revelation.”

In his remarks, Buttigieg implicitly criticized Sanders for divisive rhetoric in calling for a revolution. Sanders’ supporters erupted, chanting “Wall Street Pete,” following up on the senator’s attacks on Buttigieg for holding high-dollar fundraisers and being the favored candidate of many billionaires.

(Disclaimer: Michael Bloomberg is also seeking the Democratic presidential nomination. He is the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News.)

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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