Defiant Sanders launches attack on Biden's record

After poor Super Tuesday showing, he frames Democratic primary battle as 'conflict of ideas'

Former US vice-president Joe Biden (left) came under attack by Senator Bernie Sanders over issues including his support for the Iraq War and the Wall Street rescue in the 2008 financial crisis. PHOTOS: EPA-EFE, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

BURLINGTON • US Senator Bernie Sanders went on the offensive against former vice-president Joe Biden, framing the primary fight for the Democratic presidential nomination as a "conflict of ideas" that pits his outsider campaign against the political status quo.

Speaking a day after a disappointing performance on Super Tuesday, Mr Sanders struck a defiant tone, railing against the political establishment and the media.

He stuck closely to his core message and did not seek to moderate it to invite more supporters.

"Joe and I have a very different voting record," he said at a news conference on Wednesday.

"Joe and I have a very different vision for the future of this country. And Joe and I are running very different campaigns.

"And my hope is that in the coming months, we will be able to debate and discuss the very significant differences that we have."

Mr Sanders parsed Mr Biden's record, criticising his support for the Iraq War and the Wall Street rescue during the 2008 finan-cial crisis.

He also highlighted their differences on healthcare - Mr Sanders supports legislation that would essentially abolish private insurance in favour of a single government-run plan and Mr Biden wants to add a public option that would leave the current private system in place.

And he ticked off Mr Biden's past calls for cuts to entitlement programmes such as Social Security and Medicaid.

Mr Sanders, who relies on grassroots donations to fund his campaign, said Mr Biden "is running a campaign that is heavily supported by the corporate establishment", adding that the former vice-president is backed by "60 billionaires".

The Vermont senator criticised Mr Biden for his support of trade deals that he says have had "disastrous" impacts in the Midwest.

Mr Sanders, who will be campaigning in Michigan this weekend, said Mr Biden will have to answer for his record on trade.

Mr Biden won 10 of the 14 states that voted on Super Tuesday and opened up a delegate lead over Mr Sanders, who won his home state of Vermont, along with California, Utah and Colorado.

As final Super Tuesday results were coming in, Mr Biden had 512 delegates and Mr Sanders had 441.

Mr Sanders acknowledged that he was disappointed in the results, particularly the campaign's struggle to bring new voters into the fold, something he has long argued he was best positioned to do.

The Biden campaign has pushed for Democrats to unify and warned against Mr Sanders' aggressive campaigning style that left Mrs Hillary Clinton's team and others believing he had damaged her chances in the 2016 presidential election against Republican Donald Trump.

Mr Cedric Richmond, a Biden campaign co-chair and Louisiana congressman, warned that "we can't divide this party like we did the last time", calling out Mr Sanders for releasing three negative advertisements on Mr Biden on Wednesday morning.


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 06, 2020, with the headline Defiant Sanders launches attack on Biden's record. Subscribe