Feb 8, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Biden: Sanders and Buttigieg won't win the long game in 2020

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Former Vice President Joe Biden opened the Democratic debate on Friday night by reiterating that while Sen. Sanders (I-Vt.) and Mayor Pete Buttigieg came out on top in the Iowa caucus, they will face problems down the 2020 road.

Thought bubble... Per Axios' Alayna Treene: Biden is playing straight to voters biggest concern with his answer to the first question: Which candidate can best take on Trump on the debate stage and beat him in the general election? Biden says Trump will label Sanders as a socialist, and given the fact that he is one, Republicans will eat him alive

"In regards to Sen. Sanders, the president wants very much to stick a label on every candidate. We're going to have to not only win this time, we're going to have to win the Senate. Bernie has labeled himself, not me, a Democratic socialist. That's the label that's going to weigh on everybody's mind with Bernie if he's a nominee."
"And Mayor Buttigieg is a great guy, and you're a patriot. He's the mayor of a small city who has done some good things, but has not demonstrated his ability to —and we'll soon find out— to get a broad scope of support across the spectrum including African Americans and Latinos."

Go deeper: Buttigieg responds to Biden's electability criticism

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Biden says he'll "work like hell" for Bernie if he wins the nomination

Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Joe Biden continued to argue on ABC's "This Week" Sunday that the Democratic Party would have a harder time defeating President Trump if it nominates Bernie Sanders, who labels himself a democratic socialist, but stated that he would "work like hell" for the Vermont senator if he wins.

Why it matters: The divide between the moderate and progressive wing of the party has reignited debate over whether voters from each side would ultimately back the nominee against Trump.

4 key takeaways from the Democratic debate in New Hampshire

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The attacks grew more direct and the fault lines more defined Friday night at the eighth Democratic debate, as candidates looked to either capitalize on their Iowa momentum or stop the bleeding four days before New Hampshire primary.

Why it matters: Pete Buttigieg has the chance to make a huge statement if he can pull off a victory in New Hampshire, a state that his fellow Iowa frontrunner Bernie Sanders won in a landslide in 2016. Joe Biden, meanwhile, seemed ready to concede at the outset of the debate: "I took a hit in Iowa, and I’ll probably take one here."

Poll: Joe Biden loses status as most electable Democrat

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The share of Democratic primary voters who believe Joe Biden has the best chance out of any 2020 candidate to beat President Trump has dropped to 17%, down 12 points since the New Hampshire primary, according to a Morning Consult national poll.

Why it matters: Biden's electability pitch is widely considered his core appeal as a candidate.