Feb 8, 2020 - Politics & Policy

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."

Our thought bubble, via Axios' Alexi McCammond: Biden is unrestrained now that his campaign is flailing. He's spent the majority of the primary focused on Trump, but that's blown up after Buttigieg's Iowa win and expected upswing in New Hampshire.

  • Biden's only primary hope is to do well in Nevada and South Carolina because he's enjoyed strong support from black voters nationally.
  • Buttigieg has struggled to gain traction with black and brown voters, which could hurt his performance in those states. But, winning begets more winning, and coming out on top in Iowa will give him momentum heading into Super Tuesday.

What they're saying: "The Vice President’s decision to run this ad speaks more to where he currently stands in this race than it does about Pete’s perspective as a mayor and veteran," Buttigieg's national press secretary said in a statement on Saturday.

  • “Bringing it up now is better than later — because it’s the same thing Trump would bring up,” Jim Blanchard, a former Michigan governor and a Biden surrogate, told Axios. He added that Trump would raise it in a “worse” way.

Flashback: Buttigieg said he welcomes "the challenge" of attracting black voters at the 5th Democratic debate and said he could relate to the fight for civil rights through his experience as a gay man.

  • Biden was under fire at the first debate for his comments about working with segregationist senators and opposing federally mandated busing that integrated schools in the 1970s.

The bottom line: Biden maintains a significant polling lead among black voters overall, compared to other candidates.

Go deeper: 2020 Democrats are ready to talk about racial inequality

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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

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.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Feb 9, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Poll: Joe Biden loses status as most electable Democrat

Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images

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.