As the final days before the New Hampshire primary heat up, so too has Former Vice President Joe Biden’s tirade against the rising former South Bend, Indiana mayor Pete Buttigieg – who he joked is “no Barack Obama.”
“I think, you know, being a mayor of a town smaller than Manchester is not quite like being a United States senator from the state of Illinois — even though it was only for a short amount of time,” Biden told ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Johnathan Karl following Friday’s Democratic debate in New Hampshire, comparing Buttigieg to the former president. “Barack’s experience was much wider as well … I know Barack Obama, he’s no Barack Obama. He’s a rare breed, Barack Obama.”
He added, “Best thing I had happened was working with him.”
When Karl asked about his back-and-forth with Buttigieg on “politics of the past,” during the debate — hosted by ABC News and partners — Biden questioned Buttigieg’s perception of history.
“Pete keeps talking about everything was bad before, ‘all the past was bad.’ Since when did the Democrats think Barack Obama didn’t do a good job?” Biden said. “All these bad things? I don’t know where [Buttigieg] was living.”
A new, biting online video from his campaign posted Saturday compared the former vice president’s record from his more than 40 years in public service, to Buttigieg’s perceived lack of experience.
“Pete Buttigieg doesn’t think much of the vice president’s record. Let’s compare. When President [Barack] Obama called on him, Joe Biden helped lead the passage of the Affordable Care Act — which gave healthcare to 20 million people,” the video said. “And when park-goers called on Pete Buttigieg, he installed decorative lights under bridges, giving citizens of South Bend colorfully illuminated rivers.”
The video continued listing Biden’s accomplishments during the Obama administration and from his time in Congress.
“Despite pressure from the NRA, Joe Biden passed the assault weapons ban through Congress, and then he passed the Violence against Women Act,” the video touted, adding “and when public pressure mounted against him, Former Mayor Pete fired the first African American Police Chief of South Bend. And then he forced out the African American fire chief too. We’re electing a president. What you’ve done matters.”
Amid the debate, Biden also warned that both Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Buttigieg have significant liabilities that will render them unable to defeat President Donald Trump in a general election.
He said while Buttigieg is a “great guy” and a “real patriot,” his experience level and ability to garner support from minority groups is still lacking.
“He’s a mayor of a small city who has done some good things but has not demonstrated he has the ability to — and we’ll soon find out — to get a broad scope of support across the spectrum including African-Americans and Latinos,” Biden said of the 38-year-old former mayor, who emerged in a dead heat with Sanders in Iowa.
ABC News Senior Congressional Correspondent Mary Bruce took note that Biden’s often shied away from direct attacks in previous debates.
“No more, Bruce said, referring to his jabs at his rivals on Friday night.
Turning to Sanders, he said he didn’t raise his hand when the candidates on stage were asked if they had concerns about the party nominating a Democratic Socialist because he didn’t want to “pile on” and felt he had already made his point previously.
“Bernie’s labeled himself, not me, a ‘Democratic Socialist.’ I think that’s the label the president’s gonna lay on everyone running with Bernie if he’s the nominee,” Biden said, later adding “This is going to be a field day for the president.”
The candidate and his team insist that reading too much into the results in the first two states ignores the fact that Biden is much better positioned to win states with more diverse electorates like Nevada and South Carolina.
“We know it’s gonna be a fight. We know it might be an uphill battle. But the reality is, we are still in this race,” Symone Sanders, a senior adviser for Biden’s campaign, told reporters in the spin room post-debate. “The reality is that we have said from the beginning that you should view these first four nominating contests as a package, which means Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and yes, South Carolina.”
Biden also warned against assuming minority voters would turn out for Democrats.
“Look, the black community knows me and I know them. And I think we take it for granted much too much,” he said, adding “my biggest concern about the African American community with the Democrats is: most of it was taken for granted. They just take it for granted that they’re going to show up.”
Despite the Iowa caucuses delivering a split decision between former Buttigieg and Sanders, Biden took on his expected fourth place finish in the first-in-the-caucus state, casting himself as an “underdog.”
Asked about the moment at the top of the debate when the former vice president admitted he didn’t do well in Iowa, he said “This is a long, a long race. I took a hit in Iowa and I’ll probably take a hit here.”
Still, he said the night was not a “do or die” moment for the campaign, again lowering expectations for his performance in the state’s primary next week.
“In New Hampshire I’m an underdog because of the fact that you know, Bernie won this place by 20 points last time,” Biden told ABC News. “The neighboring senators have gigantic influence. And so I think I’m an underdog.”
On Saturday, Biden joins ABC News’ Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos in an exclusive post-debate interview.
He’s been taking a more aggressive approach on the campaign trail in the Granite State, adding additional campaign events and public appearances as he tries to stave off another disappointing finish that could further derail his candidacy.
“Well … expect me to be knocking on doors going all across up and down the state until election day. I’m not leaving here.” Biden said. “They’re going to get tired of seeing me.”
Despite freezing temperature and biting winds, Biden was out Saturday morning handing out bread at the “Food for Children” food bank in Manchester, an organization that hands out food to those in need every week.