Former Vice President Joe Biden came out swinging in the third round of Democratic presidential debates, while also defending against blows from his fellow Democratic candidates and stumbling late in the night.
Biden went on the offensive early against Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, knocking each for their support of Medicare-for-All.
Biden took a shot at Warren, who he asserted “has not said how she would pay for [her health care plan].”
The former vice president took a shot at Sanders’s socialist beliefs while bashing the Vermont senator’s health care plan.
“For a socialist, you’ve got a lot more faith in corporate America than I do,” Biden said, hitting Sanders on his claim that corporations would provide partial refunds of health care premiums.
“You’ve got to defend the fact that 500,000 Americans are going bankrupt,” Sanders shot back, accusing Biden of not doing enough to ensure universal health care during President Barack Obama’s administration.
Biden jabbed Sanders again while the socialist senator was delivering a rant about health care prices.
“We are spending twice as much per capita on health care as the Canadians or any other major country on earth,” Sanders said.
“It’s America,” Biden interjected.
“Yeah, but Americans don’t want to pay twice as much as other countries,” Sanders shot back.
Biden was also on the receiving end of attacks throughout the debate.
Julian Castro took a veiled shot at Biden’s age, accusing him of forgetting that voters would have to buy into his health care plan. (RELATED: Democratic Debate Gets Personal As Candidates Go For The Jugular)
“Are you forgetting what you said two minutes ago?” Castro asked the former vice president, who will turn 77 years old in November. “Are you forgetting already what you said just two minutes ago? I can’t believe that you said two minutes ago that they had to buy in, and now you’re saying they don’t have to buy in. You’re forgetting that.”
Fact-checking website PolitiFact ruled that Castro’s attack on Biden was inaccurate. “A look at the exchange and at Biden’s health care plan suggest that Castro is exaggerating any differences between Biden’s plan and his own, and is misleadingly interpreting what Biden said during the debate,” the fact-checking site determined.
Castro went on the offensive again after Biden answered a question about deportations during the Obama administration by saying, “I’m the vice president of the United States.”
“He wants to take credit for Obama’s work, but not answer any questions,” Castro said.
Despite his strong start, Biden stumbled later in the debate, making a confusing reference to record players while answering a question about the legacy of slavery.
“Social workers help parents deal with how to raise their children. It’s not that they don’t want to help, they don’t know what to play the radio, make sure the television — excuse me, make sure you have the record player on at night, the — make sure that kids hear words, a kid coming from a very poor school — a very poor background will hear 4 million words fewer spoken by the time we get there,” Biden said.
Cory Booker echoed Castro’s questions about Biden’s mental state in a post-debate interview.
“I think that we are at a tough point right now, because there’s a lot of people who are concerned about Joe Biden’s ability to carry the ball across the end line without fumbling,” Booker said.
“And I think that Castro had some really legitimate concerns about — can he be someone in a long grueling campaign who can get the ball over the line? And I think [Castro] has every right to call that out.”
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