Disclaimer: I am neither a Joe Biden or Bernie Sanders supporter. I am still voting for Elizabeth Warren in the primary. I have explained why in past diaries but I will explain more in another diary soon. But what I am all for is a party unity and Joe Biden showcased just that:
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.
The former vice president brushed off his fourth-place Iowa caucus finish, describing himself as the “underdog” going into the New Hampshire primary Tuesday and beyond.
Stephanopoulos asked Biden if he believes Democrats will be able to defeat Trump if they “have to defend socialism” against Republican attacks. Biden repeatedly noted Sanders has labeled himself a “Democratic Socialist” and he is not “putting that label on Bernie.”
“I think it's going to be incredibly more difficult. Look, if I don't get the nomination and Bernie gets it, I'm going to work like hell for him. But I tell you what, it's a bigger uphill climb running as a senator or congressperson or as a governor on a ticket that calls itself a Democratic Socialist ticket … Bernie's labeled himself, not me, a 'Democratic Socialist.' I think that's the label the president's going to lay on everyone running with Bernie if he's the nominee. This is going to be a field day for the president.”
In late January, Biden declined to tell reporters he would support Sanders if the Vermont senator won the nomination despite having previously vowed to back any Democrat “regardless” of who is nominated. “I'm not going to make judgments now,” Biden said in Muscatine, Iowa, six days before the caucuses. “I just think that it depends upon how we treat one another between now and the time we have a nominee.”
But Biden maintained that there is a united Democratic front against Trump despite the ongoing primary race.
Now you can agree or disagree with Biden’s assessment about Sanders’ Democratic Socialist label making things difficult in the general election but Biden showed a real sign of party unity by being clear and upfront about supporting Sanders as the nominee. Now Biden also senses that Pete Buttigieg is a real competition and has turned his attacks on him:
With Mr. Sanders and Mr. Buttigieg vying for the lead in polls of New Hampshire voters, and Mr. Biden under growing pressure to revive his campaign after his fourth-place finish in Iowa, the crossfire signaled that the Democratic contest had reached a new, more contentious phase after the candidates spent much of the last year aiming their criticism at President Trump.
The attacks by Mr. Biden and his campaign on Mr. Buttigieg were the most revealing moment of the day: Mr. Biden, whose collegiality and warmth are among his trademarks, has rarely denigrated rivals in such personal terms as he did with Mr. Buttigieg on Saturday, questioning his experience as a small-city mayor and unfavorably comparing him to President Barack Obama.
“I do not believe we’re a party at risk if they nominate me, and I do believe we’re a party at risk if we nominate someone who’s never held a higher office than mayor of South Bend, Ind.,” Mr. Biden said at a midday rally in Manchester.
Speaking with reporters Saturday afternoon, he repeatedly suggested that Mr. Buttigieg’s calls for change implied criticism of the Obama era. When pressed on whether his jabs at Mr. Buttigieg’s mayoral resume were comparable to Hillary Clinton’s swipes at then-Senator Obama during the 2008 primary — and if the remarks were an “act of desperation” — he bristled.
“Oh, come on, man!” he said. “This guy’s not a Barack Obama!”
In the same interview with Stephanapolis, Biden also made the point that Buttigieg is having a hard time winning over African American support, which is a legitimate criticism. We still have a while to go in this primary and it remains to be seen on who will become the nominee. But we are going to have to be united at the end of the day if we are going to beat Trump, hold onto our House majority and flip the U.S. Senate. Stay tuned.