Updated Feb 9, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Biden on Buttigieg: "This guy's not a Barack Obama"

 Democratic presidential candidates Pete Buttigieg, former Vice President Joe Biden in the second night of the first Democratic presidential debate on June 27, 2019 in Miami

2020 candidates Pete Buttigieg and Joe Biden at the Democratic presidential debate in Miami, June 27. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Former Vice President Joe Biden stepped up his attacks on 2020 rival Pete Buttigieg Saturday in Manchester, New Hampshire, ahead of the state's primary, telling reporters: "This guy’s not a Barack Obama!"

Why it matters: Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, finished far ahead of national front-runner Biden in the Iowa caucuses and is set to do so again in New Hampshire on Tuesday. The two candidates appeal to a similar moderate wing of the Democratic Party, but Biden has far stronger support among people of color.

Details: Biden made the comments when asked by a reporter if his questioning of the former South Bend mayor's political experience was an "act of desperation," noting that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made similar comments about Obama when she ran against him in 2008.

I do not believe we’re a party at risk if I’m the nominee. I do believe we’re a party at risk if we nominate someone who has never held a higher office than the mayor of South Bend, Indiana."
— Joe Biden

What they're saying: Per a transcript released to Axios by Buttigieg's campaign, the former South Bend mayor addressed criticisms questioning his political experience during the New Hampshire Democratic Party dinner.

  • "[T]hat is very much the point," he said. "Because Americans in small rural towns, in industrial communities and, yes, 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 also addressed the attack on CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday: "He's right. I'm not, and neither is he. Neither is any of us running for president."

  • "This isn't 2008," he continued. "It's 2020, and we are in a new moment, calling for a different kind of leadership."

Flashback: Biden told Newsweek of Obama in 2007, "I think he can be ready, but right now I don't believe he is. ... It is not something that lends itself to ... on-the-job training." He later said during a Democratic debate that year he stood by that statement.

Go deeper: Biden targets Buttigieg on race

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