Bernie Sanders Says Biden Has 'a Lot of Baggage,' Calls His Record 'so Weak'


Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has a new target: Former Vice President Joe Biden (D).

The Democratic candidates for president have both ascended to the top of the polls, and now it appears the friendly demeanor of past debates has gone out the window.

On Thursday, Sanders leveled his most critical attack lines yet against Biden.

“It’s just a lot of baggage that Joe takes into a campaign, which isn’t going to create energy and excitement,” Sanders told The Washington Post. “He brings into this campaign a record which is so weak that it just cannot create the kind of excitement and energy that is going to be needed to defeat Donald Trump.”

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Sanders and Biden are both seen as two of the strongest candidates to defeat Trump, but for vastly different reasons. Biden is considered a moderate candidate who can court centrists, black voters and even some Republicans who loathe Trump. Sanders is seen as a radical Democrat with policies left of the party that will excite young voters and ramp up the Democratic base.

Now, it appears those differences are being dragged out into the open.

The contrasts continued into Friday morning after news broke that Iran’s top military leader Qassem Soleimani was killed in a drone strike. The strike, which was authorized by Trump, drew immediate condemnations from the left and cheers from the right. While Biden took the time to condemn Soleimani, saying “no American will mourn” his death, Sanders issued a statement that only condemned American intervention in the Middle East.

It once again pitted a staunchly anti-war Sanders against a more establishment kind of Democrat in Biden.

“Trump’s dangerous escalation brings us closer to another disastrous war in the Middle East that could cost countless lives and trillions more dollars,” Sanders said in a statement, without mentioning Soleimani’s name. “Trump promised to end endless wars, but this action puts us on the path to another one.”

The stark difference in responding to the news led Ben Smith, editor-in-chief of BuzzFeed, to tweet that there is a “decent chance we look back at today as the moment [Bernie Sanders] locked up the Democratic nomination.”

Together, the comments are a reminder that there are still serious divides within the Democratic party, and a Sanders-Biden rivalry looks ripe to expose them. As the final quarter of 2019 funding came to a close, Sanders was celebrating a $34.5 million haul that far out-paced any other candidates. Biden raised just $22.7 million but maintains a commanding lead in national polls.

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Isaac Saul is a senior politics reporter, editor and founding member at A Plus, the positive news oulet founded by Ashton Kutcher. He also writes the independent, non-partisan, ad-free politics newsletter Tangle. His reporting focuses on Congress, elections, immigration and climate change. His writing has appeared in CNN, The New York Daily News, The Forward, Yahoo!, The Huffington Post, Quartz, and been cited by The Washington Post, The New York Times and Fox News, among others. Before A Plus, he was an Associate Editor at The Huffington Post and the sports editor at The Pitt News.

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