The Slatest

Biden Says Buttigieg Is “Not a Barack Obama.” Buttigieg Fires Back: “Neither Is He.”

Democratic presidential hopeful former Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg shakes hands with former Vice President Joe Biden as Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren look on during the eighth Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season at St. Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire, on February 7, 2020.
Democratic presidential hopeful former Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg shakes hands with former Vice President Joe Biden as Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren look on during the eighth Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season at St. Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire, on February 7, 2020.
JOSEPH PREZIOSO/Getty Images

Tensions among the Democratic presidential hopefuls reached new heights on the final weekend before the New Hampshire primary as former Vice President Joe Biden and former Mayor Pete Buttigieg traded criticism with each saying that the other one is no Barack Obama. The barbs came after Biden pointedly escalated his attacks on Buttigieg as his campaign tried to regain momentum following the former vice president’s fourth-place finish in Iowa. Biden’s campaign released an online video ad Saturday that mocked the former South Bend, Ind. mayor’s achievements. Some were quick to call it the most negative attack ad yet of the primary season.

The attacks didn’t just come in ads. “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.,” Biden said at a rally in Manchester on Saturday. Later, a reporter asked Biden if his criticism of Buttigieg wasn’t reminiscent of the way Hillary Clinton attacked Obama during the 2008 campaign. “Oh, come on, man!” Biden said. “This guy’s not a Barack Obama!” Biden went on to say that Obama “had been a senator of a really large state” and had “laud out a clear vision” for the country’s international relations and the economy. Biden reiterated that comparison Sunday. “Barack Obama came from a large state, he was a United States senator and he had run before. He had been involved in international—He had a clear vision of what he thought the world should look like and so on,” he said on ABC’s This Week. “So, but—it’s a very different situation.”

When he was asked about Biden’s comparison on Sunday, Buttigieg said his opponent was correct. “Well, he’s right, I’m not. And neither is he. Neither is any of us running for president,” Buttigieg told CNN’s Jake Tapper. Buttigieg added that “this isn’t 2008, it’s 2020 and we are in a new moment calling for a different kind of leadership.” Buttigieg also commented on Biden’s attack ad, saying that small communities “are frustrated with being made into a punchline by Washington politicians.” Speaking on CBS’ Face the Nation Buttigieg said that Biden’s ad is “a typical political attack that doesn’t tell most of the story.”