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"He's a very confused guy," Joe Biden said during the final presidential debate on Thursday after President Trump cited Sen. Bernie Sanders' attempt to make single-payer health care work in Vermont. "He thinks he's running against somebody else"

Why it matters: The Trump campaign has sought to paint Biden as an empty vessel for radical socialism, despite the former vice president's more moderate positions compared to candidates he ran against in the Democratic primary. Biden said the public health insurance option in his plan is not an example of socialized medicine, but is meant to ensure that Americans "have the right to have affordable health care."

What they're saying:

BIDEN: "People deserve to have affordable health care, period. Period, period period. And the Biden care proposal will provide for that, lower premiums. It's going to cost $750 billion over ten years to do it, and they're going to have lower premiums. You can buy into better plans, cheaper plans, lower your premiums. Deal with unexpected billing and have your drug prices drop significantly. He keeps talking about it — he hasn't done a thing for anybody on health care, not a thing.
TRUMP: "When he says public option he's talking about socialized medicine and health care. When he talks about a public option, he's talking about destroying your Medicare, and destroying your Social Security. And this whole country will come down. Bernie Sanders tried it in his state. He tried it in his state. His governor was a very liberal governor. They wanted to make it work. It was impossible to work. It doesn't work.
BIDEN "He's a very confused guy. He thinks he's running against somebody else. He's running against Joe Biden. I beat all those other people because I disagree with them. Joe Biden, he's running against."

Go deeper

Focus group: Former Trump voters say he should never hold office again

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

"Relief" is the top emotion some swing voters who used to support Donald Trump say they felt as they watched President Biden's swearing-in, followed by "hope."

Why it matters: For voters on the bubble between parties, this moment is less about excitement for Biden or liberal politics than exhaustion and disgust with Trump and a craving for national healing. Most said Trump should be prohibited from ever holding office again.

Updated 3 hours ago - Energy & Environment

Bomb cyclone prompts blizzard warnings from Virginia to Maine

Computer model projection showing the intense storm off of Cape Cod on Jan 29, 2022, with heavy snow and strong winds lashing the coastline. (Weatherbell.com)

Blizzard warnings are in effect for 11 million people from coastal Virginia to eastern Maine as a historic winter storm is set to slam the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast beginning Friday.

Why it matters: The storm will bring hazards ranging from zero visibility amid hurricane force wind gusts and heavy snow, to coastal flooding that will erode vulnerable beaches and threaten property from the Jersey shore to coastal Massachusetts.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Contact tracing fizzles across America — New clues emerge on long COVID — Omicron is finally burning out — It's very difficult to get access to antiviral COVID treatments — Axios-Ipsos poll: Omicron's big numbersAnother wave of death — FDA limits use of Regeneron and Lilly antibody treatments.
  2. Vaccines: Pfizer begins clinical trial for Omicron-specific vaccine — The shifting definition of fully vaccinated.
  3. Politics: Virginia AG says public colleges can't mandate COVID vaccines —Alaska governor joins Texas lawsuit over National Guard vaccine mandate — Navy discharges 45 sailors for refusing vaccine — Spotify to remove Neil Young's music after his Joe Rogan ultimatum — White House: 60M households have ordered free COVID-19 rapid tests.
  4. World: U.K. to lift travel testing requirement for fully vaccinated — Beijing Olympic Committee lowers testing threshold ahead of Games.
  5. Variant tracker