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Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

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

Go deeper

Updated 36 mins ago - Health

First North American Omicron cases identified in Canada

COVID-19 testing personnel at Toronto Pearson International Airport in September. Photo: Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images

The first two cases of the new Omicron variant have been detected in North America, the Canadian government announced Sunday evening.

Driving the news: The World Health Organization has named Omicron a "variant of concern," but cautioned earlier on Sunday that it is not yet clear whether it's more transmissible than other strains of COVID-19.

Former Defense Secretary Esper sues Pentagon over book

Former President Trump and former Defense Secretary Mark Esper at the White House in 2020. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Former Defense Secretary Mark Esper filed a lawsuit Sunday against the Defense Department, accusing the Pentagon of "censoring" his First Amendment rights by redacting parts of his upcoming book on the Trump administration.

The big picture: Esper, who served as defense secretary from July 2019 until he was fired by then-President Trump in November last year, alleges in the suit that "significant text" is "being improperly withheld from publication" of the manuscript "under the guise of classification."

WHO warns against travel bans on southern African countries

Matshidiso Moeti, World Health Organization regional director for Africa. Photo: Sylvain Gaboury/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

The World Health Organization called on countries Sunday to not impose travel bans on southern African nations amid concerns over the new COVID-19 Omicron variant.

Why it matters: The U.S. and countries in Europe and the Asia-Pacific announced travel restrictions in response to Omicron, which was first detected in South Africa. It's since spread to several European countries, Canada, Israel, Australia and Hong Kong. The WHO noted in a statement that only two southern African nations have detected the new variant.