South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg and former Vice President Joe Biden at the Democratic presidential debate in Miami in June. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Former Vice President Joe Biden told reporters on his campaign bus in Iowa Monday that Democratic presidential rival South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg "stole" his health care plan, Reuters reports. Other news outlets and journalists also reported the remarks.

Why it matters: Buttigieg has soared in recent polls. He tops Iowa's November poll by nine points, while Biden places third, behind Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who the former vice president claimed doesn't have broad enthusiasm in the Democratic Party, according to the Wall Street Journal.

He stole it. What would you have done to me? You’d have torn my ears off."
— Biden's comments on Buttigieg's health care plan, per Reuters

The big picture: Biden, who is on an eight-day bus tour of the Hawkeye State, has pledged to build on the Obama administration's Affordable Care Act, with a new public insurance option, which would compete alongside private insurance.

What they're saying: "My proposal is straightforward. It is Medicare for all who want it and it significantly increases the subsidies to be able to get class A coverage," Biden said, per the Des Moines Register.

  • He went on to make the accusation about fellow moderate Buttigieg and his health care proposals, saying he would've been slammed for copying "someone else’s health plan," according to Reuters.

The other side: While Buttigieg's campaign wouldn't comment on Biden's remarks, Reuters credits the mayor with coining the phrase "Medicare for all who want it," noting that the mayor's statements "pre-date Biden's current presidential campaign."

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