Updated Feb 9, 2020 - Politics & Policy

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

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

Go deeper

Biden targets Buttigieg on race

Biden, Buttigieg and Sanders debate in Sept. 2019 in Houston, Texas. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Former Vice President Joe Biden released an attack ad on former Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg Saturday that disparaged Buttigieg for firing South Bend’s first black police chief, which Buttigieg claims he was pressured by federal prosecutors to do.

Driving the news: Democratic candidates held an extensive discussion on race in New Hampshire's debate on Friday. Buttigieg said he "took a lot of heat for discussing systemic racism" with his police department, and Biden said politicians should "stop taking the black community for granted."

What to watch for at tonight's Democratic debate

Candidates at the last Democratic debate in Iowa. Photo: Robyn Beck/Getty Images

The biggest story heading into New Hampshire is Pete Buttigieg's meteoric rise, which has the potential to shift the dynamics of the primary field and is rattling his rivals to his left and right.

The state of play: Following his strong showing in Iowa, Buttigieg jumped 12 percentage points in a New Hampshire poll between Monday (the day of the Iowa caucus) and Thursday, and his opponents are saying his name more regularly in their stump speeches throughout the state.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Feb 8, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Buttigieg responds to Biden's electability criticism

While on "The View" Thursday, former Mayor Pete Buttigieg fired back at Joe Biden for his remarks that it would be a risk for the Democratic Party to nominate Buttigieg, given his limited experience as a small-town mayor.

"Well if that argument is about electability and the ability to win, we just had the first election of the 2020 process. I think that's my answer."
— Pete Buttigieg on "The View"