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Biden: Trump should ‘stop talking and start listening to the medical experts’



Trump set the Easter goal earlier Tuesday on Fox News. It’s a date that few health experts believe will be sufficient in containing the spread of coronavirus.

“Look, we all want the economy to open as rapidly as possible. The way to do that is let’s take care of the medical side of this immediately,” Biden said in an interview with CNN.

The former vice president said he could envision some parts of the country and some sectors being ready to return to work on Trump’s timeline.

“But the idea that we’re in a position where we’re saying, by Easter, he wants to have everybody going back to work? What’s he talking about?” Biden said.

Biden said Trump is “not responsible for the coronavirus” but that the President is “responsible for the delay in taking the actions that need to be taken.”

He said Trump should have invoked the Defense Production Act earlier and used its powers to require companies to rapidly ramp up production of medical equipment like masks and ventilators.

“He says he’s a war-time president — well God, act like one. Move. Fast,” Biden said.

Biden has been off the campaign trail for two weeks as the pandemic has forced candidates to cancel rallies and fundraisers and order staff to work from home. His campaign converted a room in his Wilmington, Delaware, home into a broadcast studio, and Biden began a media blitz Tuesday.

In the interview, Biden said he has not been tested for coronavirus because he has not exhibited any symptoms, and that he is following medical experts’ advice — including keeping distance from his grandchildren when they visit and ensuring everyone who enters his house, including the Secret Service, wears gloves and masks.

At one point in the interview, Biden coughed into his hand. Tapper told Biden that doing so was “kind of old school” and that he should cough into his elbow.

“Actually that is true,” Biden said. “But fortunately I’m alone in my home. But that’s OK. I agree. You’re right.”



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Joe Biden expected to make overtures to Bernie Sanders’ supporters in first one-on-one debate


Biden will do this while also presenting his case for why he should be the Democratic nominee and why he is best positioned to beat President Donald Trump, the aide said.

The expected effort showcases one of the tasks Biden faces as he works to secure the Democratic presidential nomination — making the case for his brand of politics while not alienating Sanders’ fervent supporters, which the former vice president would need to win over heading into a general election.

Biden previewed one possible overture Friday when he announced his endorsement of Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s bankruptcy proposal, which includes student loan debt relief in bankruptcy. Biden called the proposal “one of the things that I think Bernie and I will agree on.” As CNN previously reported, a Biden campaign aide said the former vice president would likely say more about his support of the proposal in the debate Sunday night.
3 things to watch in the first one-on-one debate between Biden and Sanders

On Wednesday, Sanders previewed some of the issues he plans to press Biden on, including health care, climate change and economic inequality.

The debate takes place against the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic as both Biden and Sanders have criticized the Trump administration for its response and offered their approaches for tackling the crisis.

Sunday’s debate marks the first time Biden is going against an opponent one-on-one this cycle, meaning he will have significantly more time in the spotlight compared to previous debates where he had limited speaking time and delivered uneven performances.

But it’s not his first experience in this one-on-one debate format. His vice presidential debates against Sarah Palin in 2008 and Paul Ryan in 2012 are considered to be among his strongest performances — though those were against Republicans and occurred roughly a decade ago.



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Biden campaign memo says it’s ‘nearly impossible for Sanders’ to make up delegate disadvantage



In the memo, Biden’s campaign states its internal count has his delegate lead at approximately 160, including between 70 and 80 netted in this Tuesday’s primary. The Biden campaign’s estimate does not match CNN’s estimate, which has Biden’s advantage at 142 delegates, with the former vice president at 803 and Sanders at 661.

The memo argues that next week’s primaries in Arizona, Florida, Illinois and Ohio, and then the following week in Georgia, are in “some of our strongest” states and that the campaign expects to “significantly expand our delegate lead in those highly-supportive, delegate-rich states.”

Biden’s campaign also argues that Sanders’ delegate gains in Vermont, Colorado and Utah pale in comparison to what Biden netted in Alabama, Mississippi and Virginia.

“It’s not just that Sanders has failed to win a large number of states, it’s also that these wins have not netted significant delegates for him in the way they have for us,” the memo says.

The memo later adds, “Should our broad base of support remain — and we have seen no signs that would indicate otherwise — it will be nearly impossible for Sanders to recoup his current delegate disadvantage.”

The memo comes after Biden notched massive wins Tuesday in Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi and Idaho, and is in a close race with Sanders as Washington continues counting votes. The Vermont senator won only North Dakota among states contested on Tuesday.

As some Democratic officials and groups called Biden’s delegate lead insurmountable, and the super PAC Priorities USA said it would begin backing Biden as the party’s general election candidate, Sanders on Wednesday in Burlington, Vermont, pledged to continue in the race — saying he would debate Biden on Sunday night in Arizona.

While speaking in Burlington, Sanders acknowledged that he’s not doing well in the delegate count.

“Last night obviously was not a good night for our campaign from a delegate point of view,” Sanders said, pointing out that he lost in Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri and Idaho.

But, he added, “What became even more apparent yesterday is that while we are currently losing the delegate count, approximately 800 delegates for Joe Biden and 660 for us, we are strongly winning in two enormously important areas which will determine the future of our country. Poll after poll, including exit polls show, that a strong majority of the American people support our progressive agenda.”

The race is in the midst of a stunning two-week stretch in which Biden knocked out several leading competitors with his blowout win in the South Carolina primary, won 10 of the 15 contests on Super Tuesday and then scored a demoralizing victory Tuesday night in Michigan — the state where Sanders had stunned Hillary Clinton four years earlier. The veteran Democrat has rapidly consolidated a coalition of African Americans, suburban voters and working-class whites. Sanders, meanwhile, has been stronger among young voters — but those voters have turned out in smaller numbers.

Biden in a speech Tuesday night in Philadelphia extended an olive branch to Sanders and his supporters.

“I want to thank Bernie Sanders and his supporters for their tireless energy and their passion,” Biden said.

He echoed a common Sanders line on health care, touted their “common goal” and said they would work together to defeat President Donald Trump.

The Biden campaign memo states that attacks on the former vice president’s record on Social Security and trade — a key line of criticism from Sanders — had “little impact,” arguing Biden won union households and voters over 65 by wide margins in Michigan and Missouri.

The campaign also says it expected Tuesday to be the toughest priamry day in March.

The memo touts Biden’s “broad coalition” and points to the suburbs and diverse counties — St. Louis County, Missouri; Wayne County, Michigan, which houses Detroit; and Hinds County, Mississippi, which includes Jackson, in particular — as places Biden “ran up the score.”

“Turnout was up among the voters and in the states where we performed best. These are the kinds of states and voters who will deliver a victory in November,” the memo states.



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Biden vs. Sanders policies: How they compare



Biden is running on the legacy of the eight years he served alongside President Barack Obama while Sanders — an independent — is offering a democratic socialist platform with a radically different vision for America.

Both candidates will make the case for their respective platforms ahead of Tuesday’s contests in Idaho, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota and Washington. They are also scheduled to meet onstage at the CNN/Univision Arizona debate on March 15.

Here’s a look at their proposals on key issues.

Health care

Biden

Biden has stuck by the Affordable Care Act, Obama’s signature healthcare plan, but has offered proposals for enormous new subsidies to make coverage through Obamacare’s exchanges less expensive. His plan includes a new “public option” that would allow people to buy into a program his campaign says would be similar to Medicare.

  • The proposal would carry a price tag of $750 billion over 10 years, his campaign has said.
  • Biden is proposing to foot the bill by raising income taxes on the wealthiest Americans to 39.6% — reversing part of the Republican-led Congress’ 2017 tax cut law that reduced that rate — and by requiring those who earn more than $1 million per year to pay 39.6% taxes on capital gains, rather than the current 20%.
Head here for more on Biden’s plan.

Sanders

Sanders’ proposed “Medicare-for-All” health care program is the foundation of his progressive platform. Read the highlights of his Senate bill here.

His plan would leave intact the current infrastructure of doctors, hospitals and other health care providers, but nationalize the health insurance industry. Nearly all the money individuals and employers currently pay through insurers as well as much of the money states pay would, under Sanders’ plan, instead be paid by the federal government.

Sanders has suggested that Medicare for All would end up reducing the amount the country spends on health care, which experts say isn’t the case — though individual households might end up coming out ahead.

  • Multiple estimates have pegged the cost of Medicare for All at more than $30 trillion over a decade — a big chunk of change for taxpayers to cover.
  • Sanders has said he would pay for the program by rolling back the 2017 Republican tax cuts, plus imposing additional taxes on the rich and capital gains taxes.
  • Some funding would also come from collecting money that employers and individuals currently pay to private insurers — that is, trading premiums for higher taxes.
Head here for more on Sanders’ vision and how he plans to fund it.

Climate crisis

Biden

Biden has proposed a climate crisis plan that would set the US on track to eliminate net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
The proposal embraces elements of the progressive Green New Deal and seeks to go “well beyond” Obama’s climate goals.
As part of the proposal, Biden is calling for an end to fossil fuel subsidies and a ban on new oil and gas permits on public lands. Like other Democrats, he would also reenter the Paris climate accord, the landmark 2015 agreement on emissions reductions that Trump withdrew from during his first year in office.

Biden’s plan leaves Congress to decide what enforcement mechanism would be used to require corporations in the United States to meet the goals he lays out — and penalize them if they fall short.

  • The plan carries a price tag of $1.7 trillion in its first 10 years, including $400 billion for research between universities and the private sector.
  • Biden would pay for it by undoing the tax cuts enacted by Trump and congressional Republicans.

Sanders

Sanders, who excoriated Trump over withdrawing from the Paris agreement, is a leading proponent of the Green New Deal and is calling for an ambitious climate crisis plan that includes a vast mobilization to halt and reverse the effects of global warming over a decade.

The prime targets include meeting the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s goal of 100% renewable energy for electricity and transportation by 2030; cutting domestic emissions by 71% over that period; creating a $526 billion electric “smart grid;” investing $200 billion in the Green Climate Fund; and prioritizing what activists call a “just transition” for fossil fuel workers who would be dislocated during the transition.

In the process, the campaign claims, it would create 20 million new jobs in “steel and auto manufacturing, construction, energy efficiency retrofitting, coding and server farms, and renewable power plants.”

  • The plan comes with a $16.3 trillion price tag, but Sanders has said it will “pay for itself over 15 years.”
  • The largest potential funding source, an estimated $6.4 trillion, would come from revenue generated by the sale of clean energy — which will be administered by publicly owned utilities — between 2023 and 2035.
  • Before that, Sanders would cut military spending used to protect global energy interests by more than $1.2 trillion while hitting up fossil fuel companies for more than $3 trillion in “litigation (against polluters), fees, and taxes.”
  • An additional $2.3 trillion, the campaign says, would be raised from the taxes paid on the 20 million new jobs it promises to create.

Immigration

Biden

Biden’s immigration platform outlines a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants while calling for broad reversals of Trump’s border policies.
  • Biden’s plan would invest $4 billion in Central America in an effort to deliver “measurable reductions” in violence to slow migration to the US.
  • His platform would also raise the US refugee admissions cap from the current 18,000 to 125,000.
  • In an interview with CNN in July 2019, Biden said he opposes decriminalizing crossing the border without documentation. “I think people should have to get in line, but if people are coming because they’re actually seeking asylum, they should have a chance to make their case.”

Sanders

Sanders’ immigration platform calls for a large scale restructuring of the system through legislative action and a series of executive orders.
  • He would place a moratorium on deportations, end raids by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, stop construction of the wall on the US-Mexico border, end family separations and shutter for-profit detention centers.
  • Sanders would also overturn Trump’s so-called public charge rule and ensure that immigrants are not discriminated against based on income or disability, while extending temporary protected status until more permanent resolutions are in place.
  • The plan would also restructure the Department of Homeland Security, folding ICE into the Justice Department and Customs and Border Protection into the Treasury Department.
  • Under the proposal, the government would create a program to welcome migrants displaced by climate change and would set a goal of accepting at least 50,000 people during his first year in office.

Education

Biden

Biden’s education platform would increase funding for schools in low-income areas, help teachers pay off their education debt and double the number of health professionals working in schools.

The plan would prioritize competitive pay for teachers, expanding access to preschool for 3- and 4-year-olds and districts offering rigorous coursework.

After those, Biden’s plan would leave it to school districts to identify their biggest needs to address with the remaining funding bump.

He’s said that “the bulk of” his education proposals can become law even if Republicans maintain control of the Senate after the 2020 elections.

  • Biden has not offered details on how much the plan would cost overall or how he proposes to pay for it.
  • A separate plan focused on higher education proposes two free years of community college that his campaign says would cost $750 billion per year.

Sanders

Sanders’ education policy plan lays out a 10-point agenda that calls for the end of for-profit charter schools, creates a salary floor for public school teachers, guarantees free school meals for all students and expands after school and summer school programs.

The platform proposes a salary floor of $60,000 a year for teachers tied to cost of living and a boost in the above-the-line tax deduction for out-of-pocket expenses on supplies.

His plan also called for a complete ban on for-profit charter schools and a moratorium on the funding of all public charter school expansion until a national audit on the schools has been completed.

  • While Sanders did not offer specific funding sources for the plan, he did allude to the fact that rolling back tax cuts enacted during the Trump Administration would help to foot the bill.

For higher education, Sanders has pushed an ambitious “college for all” program that would eliminate the student loan debt of every American and calls for free tuition at all four-year public colleges and universities, as well as community colleges.

  • Sanders has said new taxes on Wall Street would raise the $2.2 trillion necessary to pay for this program and his other college funding plans.
  • It will include a 0.5% tax on stock trades (or 50 cents for every $100 worth of stock), a 0.1% fee on bonds, and a 0.005% fee on derivatives. Sanders believes that could raise more than $2.4 trillion over the next 10 years.

Gun violence

Biden

Biden’s gun control plan would require owners of assault-style rifles to either sell their firearms through a voluntary buyback program or register them with the federal government.
  • The plan would addresses urban gun violence with an eight-year, $900 million program that would go toward efforts to combat shootings in 40 cities with the highest rates of gun violence.
  • It would eliminate legal protections that prevent gun manufacturers from being held liable for how their products are used.
  • Biden is also proposing a series of measures that have been widely-backed in the Democratic primary including closing loopholes in background checks before gun purchases, banning the sale of assault-style rifles and high-capacity magazines, and allowing states to implement “red flag” laws.

Sanders

Sanders, who has come under criticism from Biden over his past Senate votes on gun control, is pushing for expanded background checks and to close various loopholes in firearm purchases.
  • Sanders’ policy aims to regulate assault weapons “the same way that we currently regulate fully automatic weapons — a system that essentially makes them unlawful to own.”
  • His plan would push for harsher punishments for “straw” purchases, when someone purchases a gun for someone who cannot legally possess a firearm.
  • It also calls for a ban on high-capacity ammunition magazines as well as the 3-D printing of firearms and bump stocks.

CNN’s Eric Bradner contributed to this report.



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Joe Biden campaign: How he lost his front-runner status


Biden wasn’t there.

Biden is now also facing a looming challenge in Super Tuesday and beyond in the candidacy of former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who appears to be cutting into his support with African American voters and has spent more than $300 million introducing himself. Biden’s advisers insist that Bloomberg has not yet been vetted.

“He is not tested,” Biden campaign Chairman Cedric Richmond, a Louisiana congressman, said of Bloomberg Wednesday.

And in a call with reporters Wednesday, campaign advisers argued that no one should overlook Biden’s durability as a candidate, despite his losses in Iowa and New Hampshire.

“This thing isn’t over,” senior Biden adviser Symone Sanders said Wednesday. “Don’t count us out. “

But Biden’s collapse in Iowa and New Hampshire was rooted in self-inflicted problems. His message was muddled. He mumbled through some of his lower-energy campaign events — leading some voters to wonder what had happened to the dynamic vice-presidential candidate they saw in 2008 and 2012. His events continually lacked the electricity that Democrats expected from a front-runner.

“If he wants to keep people, he’s got to instill confidence somehow, and that’s not working at the moment,” one source close to the campaign said, warning of the challenge that Biden faces from Bloomberg. “I think Biden people are loyal enough that they’ll stick with him, but that said, there’s also going to be people looking for off-ramps.”

“There’s a lot riding in the next two weeks for him but he’s also got to prove it. I love him, but he’s got to prove it,” the source added.

With his national poll numbers falling, his support among black voters in question, his campaign is scrambling to show that it is fixing problems within its organization — elevating Barack Obama campaign veteran Anita Dunn, for example, to have final decision-making authority over campaign manager Greg Schultz.

But Biden’s frankness about his campaign’s weaknesses has sometimes cast a shadow over efforts to reboot. He arrived in New Hampshire promising he’d recover from the “gut punch” of results from Iowa. Within days, he was publicly forecasting his own failure in the Granite State at a nationally televised debate.

“I took a hit in Iowa and I’ll probably take a hit here,” Biden said at the debate. “Traditionally, Bernie won by 20 points last time. And usually it’s the neighboring senators that do well.”

On Tuesday night, he told his crowd in South Carolina that they’d heard the verdicts of only “the first two of 50 states.”

“Where I come from that’s the opening bell, not the closing bell,” Biden said.

But increasingly, Democratic voters are wondering whether it should be his fight.

Warning signs in Iowa

The day after he arrived in New Hampshire, Biden finally said aloud what virtually everyone in the Democratic Party has been saying privately.

“We took a gut punch in Iowa,” the former vice president told New Hampshire voters who had gathered in Somersworth last Wednesday. “But look, this isn’t the first time in my life I’ve been knocked down. … None of you have been handed everything just on a silver platter.”

But it was Biden’s silver platter advantages when he entered the race last April that made his weak finish in Iowa so stunning. None of his rivals had the connections developed from serving two terms in the White House. None of them entered with his deep, big-donor list.

The fiasco that engulfed the Iowa Democratic Party last week masked that fact that Biden won very few counties in a state that had launched the man who chose him as his vice president in 2008.

Within his campaign before the caucuses, there was a profound sense of nervousness.

One major warning sign had come three months earlier, at the November Liberty and Justice Celebration in Des Moines, when the enthusiasm gap between Biden and other candidates became most apparent.

Biden walks on stage to speak at the Iowa Democratic Party's Liberty and Justice Celebration, November 2019, in Des Moines, Iowa.
Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s section was a sea of volunteers in green T-shirts (even some of her empty seats were draped with her campaign colors).
Then-South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg‘s team, in yellow, bought every ticket that his campaign was permitted to buy — and they were clearly energized, showing representation from all of Iowa’s 99 counties.

In Biden’s section, however, there were notable gaps of empty seats and boxes of untouched blue thundersticks on the floor. It was a failure of organization that upset the candidate and was a wake-up call for his campaign.

Shortly after that event, Biden angrily told his campaign chairman, Steve Ricchetti, that things had to change. The campaign responded by stepping up his presence in Iowa and dispatching the deputy campaign manager, Pete Kavanaugh, to the state to oversee the organization.

Durability amid early stumbles

Biden survived several major missteps in 2019. The first was in June, when he created confusion by telling a woman on a rope line that he had changed his position on the Hyde Amendment, which bars federal funds from being used for most abortions. When the clip caught fire on social media, his campaign said he had not altered his stance.

That created a new source of blowback — one that could have crippled his support among female voters. Ultimately, amid the backlash, Biden said he was dropping his support for the Hyde Amendment.

Biden then survived an attack by California’s Sen. Kamala Harris during the June debate, when she challenged his opposition to the federally mandated busing of schoolchildren to diversify schools decades ago in neighborhoods that opposed it. He also faced criticism for having touted his ability as a young senator to work with segregationists, which he cited as an example of his skill in forging compromise.
The hopefuls who attacked him mostly vociferously in debates — Harris, Rep. Eric Swalwell of California (who told Biden it was time to pass the torch) and Julian Castro, a former housing and urban development secretary (who suggested Biden was losing his memory), have all dropped out of the race.

The campaign faced a new series of challenges last summer, when the White House whistleblower flagged Trump’s obsession with digging up dirt on the Bidens, namely Biden’s son Hunter, who served on the board of a Ukrainian energy company while Biden was vice president.

Trump and his allies have repeatedly made unfounded and false claims to allege that the Bidens acted corruptly in Ukraine. Trump’s efforts to damage Biden and his family later became a central part of the Democrats’ impeachment case against the President, who was acquitted by the US Senate last week.

Some of Biden’s worst days on the trail came when he was questioned about Hunter, who he often referred to as his only surviving son — a reference to the loss of 46-year-old Beau Biden in 2015 to brain cancer.

Biden became visibly angry at an event in early December in Hampton, Iowa, when a retired farmer alluded to Hunter’s position on the energy company board in Ukraine and accused the former vice president of “selling access to the President.”

The voter accused Biden of sending his “son over there, to get a job and work for a gas company” with “no experience with gas, nothing.”

“You’re a damn liar, man, that’s not true,” Biden replied, challenging his antagonist to a push-up contest when the man told him he was “too old” to run for president.

Over time, Biden became less rattled by those kinds of encounters. At a recent event in Nevada, protesters stood up, each one holding a letter to spell: “Where’s Hunter?” Biden calmly replied that his son was doing fine.

A chaotic week in New Hampshire

After losing to Vermont’s Sen. Bernie Sanders, Buttigieg and Warren in Iowa — with Minnesota’s Sen. Amy Klobuchar finishing on his heels — Biden landed in New Hampshire ready to get aggressive.

In Somersworth, he attacked by Sanders and Buttigieg by name.

“If Senator Sanders is the nominee for the party, every Democrat in America up and down the ballot, in blue states, red states, purple states, in easy districts and competitive ones, every Democrat will have to carry the label Senator Sanders has chosen for himself,” Biden said. “He calls himself a democratic socialist. Well, we’re already seeing what Donald Trump is gonna do with that.”

Biden clenches his fist as he speaks at a campaign event, February 5, in Somersworth, New Hampshire.

The former vice president also told voters they would be taking a risk by nominating the 38-year-old Buttigieg: “I do believe it’s a risk, to be just straight up with you, for this party to nominate someone who’s never held an office higher than mayor of a town of 100,000 people in Indiana.”

But on Wednesday night, Biden made a confounding move: He left the state, flying home to Delaware to prep for the Democratic debate two nights later.

He was off the trail Thursday, and only returned Friday for the debate — an absence that was glaring as several of his rivals kept up busy schedules.

Biden turned in a feisty debate performance on Friday night, and cranked the attack on Buttigieg up to a new level Saturday morning, when his campaign released the most negative advertisement of the election cycle to date — 98 seconds of mocking and belittling Buttigieg’s accomplishments as mayor in a spot that appeared on Facebook and YouTube.

“We’re electing a president,” the narrator says. “What you’ve done matters.”

Later that day, after a campaign stop in Manchester, Biden — who handlers had largely kept away from the press for months — held a news conference that turned into more of a vent session aimed at his rivals.

“Oh, come on, man,” Biden told reporters of Buttigieg. “This guy’s not a Barack Obama.”

Saturday night in Manchester, Biden’s organization would be tested again — and show more signs of weakness.

The McIntyre-Shaheen dinner was an event much like Iowa’s Liberty and Justice Celebration, attended by thousands of activists and supporters of the candidates.

Buttigieg, Warren, Sanders and former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick all brought massive, raucous cheering sections. So did Klobuchar, whose section wrapped around a corner of the Southern New Hampshire University arena seats and spilled onto the floor.

Biden had a corner. It was more organized than Iowa, with all of his supporters sitting close together. But it was much smaller than his rivals’ sections.

Biden speaks during the McIntyre-Shaheen 100 Club Dinner, February 8 in Manchester, New Hampshire.

The McIntyre-Shaheen dinner brought a sudden shift in Biden’s message, too.

Gone were the attacks on Buttigieg and Sanders. Instead, he focused on connecting his own life experiences and sense of morality with his political achievements — underscoring why he’d fought so hard to enact the Violence Against Women Act and praising the motives of his Democratic rivals.

“I’ll be damned if I’m going to stand by and lose this election to this man,” he said of Trump.

But on Monday morning, Biden focused on Trump’s visit to New Hampshire, pre-butting the President on the economy — starting his day in Gilford with a backward-looking speech saying that former President Barack Obama’s administration deserved the credit, rather than Trump.

“Trump talks about the longest job growth in American history. One hundred and twelve months of increased employment and growth. Trump has only been president for 35 of those months. But guess where he got that good economy from? Obama-Biden administration,” Biden said.

The swerving messages — from attacks to morality to the economy in a three-day stretch — gave the appearance of a candidate who was desperate to find something that worked for him.

This time, though, Sanders and Buttigieg had already proved their strength in Iowa. And Klobuchar was surging on the strength of Friday’s strong debate performance.

“I thought I had my mind made up 100% for Biden, but then in the debate the other night I was really impressed with Amy Klobuchar. So now I’m not sure,” said Peg Landry, a 60-year-old software consultant from Salem.

“I’ve been leaning toward Biden. But I haven’t really been impressed with Joe in the debates, so I want to see him in person,” said Valerie Brown, a 64-year-old health care consultant from Derry, who saw Biden campaign in Hudson.

Of his debate performance, she said: “Sometimes he can get caught up in his own language and he can kind of lose his train of thought. And just, not the energy. He just seems a little — he seems a little old.”

By Tuesday morning, Biden had decided to forgo his election-night party in New Hampshire in favor of a launch party with Richmond in South Carolina, his “firewall” state because black voters there make up a majority of the Democratic electorate.

Biden warned the South Carolina crowd on Tuesday night about the lack of minority support for two of his key rivals, Buttigieg and Klobuchar.

“Up until now, we haven’t heard from the most committed constituency in the Democratic Party — the African American community — and the fastest growing segment of society, the Latino community,” Biden continued. “99.9% — that’s the percentage of African American voters who have not yet had a chance to vote in America.”

Biden addresses the crowd during a South Carolina campaign launch party on February 11 in Columbia, South Carolina.



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Biden opens up about stuttering and offers advice to young people who stutter


Biden said at a CNN town hall Wednesday he “still occasionally, when I find myself really tired,” catches himself stuttering.

“It has nothing to do with your intelligence quotient. It has nothing to do with your intellectual makeup,” Biden said. He said he thinks “part of it’s confidence” and that he has to “think in terms of not rushing.”

“You have to break it up, because you get so nervous,” he said.

Biden pointed to the Academy Award-winning movie “The King’s Speech,” which is about England’s King George VI working to manage his stutter, and said he uses the same method depicted in the movie to mark up his own speeches to accommodate his stutter.

“So what I do, if I say, ‘The Democratic presidential town hall is tonight on CNN,’ I’ll say: ‘The presidential town hall, slash, is on CNN tonight, slash, it’s going to have the following people, slash, Anderson Cooper is going to speak, slash,” Biden said.

He said the method forces him to think in terms of not rushing.

Biden said he keeps in contact with about 15 people who stutter, and tells them it is “critically important for them not to judge themselves by their speech — not let that define them.”

He said he’d met one of those people the day before.

At an event Tuesday in Concord — his first day campaigning in New Hampshire — Biden met Owen Harrington and his 12-year-old son Brayden, who stutters.

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden talks with 12-year-old Brayden.

“My wife and I have always tried to find various people my son can relate to that stutter, and I’d read that Joe Biden stuttered and he was really respectful and kind to others in the same situation, such as children,” Owen Harrington told CNN on Wednesday night, after Biden’s answer at the town hall.

He said Brayden met and chatted with Biden on the rope line after his event.

“He put his focus on Brayden and made time for him, talked to him, explained that it doesn’t define him, he’s stronger, that he’s a good person,” Owen Harrington said. “It was really overwhelming for Brayden. He started breaking down a little bit.”

So Biden invited Brayden backstage to continue their conversation.

Biden showed Brayden the speech he had just delivered, with markings on its pages that showed where Biden could take breaks between words. The former vice president also told Brayden how he’d worked to overcome his stutter as a child, saying he practiced in the mirror.

“He was basically showing him a strategy. He normalized it,” Owen Harrington said. “That meant a lot for both of us.”

He said the conversation with Biden was a moving connection for his son because children who stutter often don’t know other children facing the same struggle. “They see it as something different, that they’re different. And he just did a really nice job really connecting with him.”

Biden asked Brayden for his phone number and said he would call to check on him.

The former vice president’s answer Wednesday came after Biden was asked at the town hall what advice he would give a college student who has struggled with stuttering since he was a young child.

“You know, stuttering, when you think about it, is the only handicap that people still laugh about. That still humiliate people about. And they don’t even mean to,” Biden said.

Biden said he didn’t receive professional help for his stutter, but practiced in the mirror for hours on end reciting poetry written by Irish poets like William Butler Yeats. He also credited his mother when it came to not letting his stutter define him.

He said his mother would tell him, “Joey, don’t let this define you. Joey, remember who you are. Joey, you can do it.”

He said, “So every time I would walk out, she would reinforce me. I know that sounds silly, but it really matters.”



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Looking for a winner, Democrats keep Biden and Sanders on top: Reuters/Ipsos poll


NEW YORK (Reuters) – Former Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders remain the top candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination as potential voters appear increasingly interested in picking a winner this year instead of someone who shares their interests, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Thursday.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Democratic presidential candidate and former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden delivers a foreign policy address in Manhattan in New York City, New York, U.S., January 7, 2020. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

The national public opinion poll found that Biden has a slight advantage among registered Democrats, though Sanders has the most support when independents are factored in. While each state sets its own rules for picking the party’s nominee, two of the early primary states – New Hampshire and South Carolina – allow independents to participate.

According to the Jan. 8-9 poll, 23% of registered Democrats said they supported Biden, while 20% supported Sanders and 15% said they would vote for U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg was backed by 8% of registered Democrats and 7% supported Pete Buttigieg, former mayor of South Bend, Indiana.

None of the other candidates received more than 3%, and another 13% of registered Democrats said they do not know which candidate to support.

The top five candidates remained the same when independents were factored in, though Sanders had a 2 percentage point advantage over Biden among the larger group.

Sanders also was picked by the largest share of Democrats and independents as the best steward of the environment and economy, as well as the candidate who would be the best at handling the country’s healthcare system.

Biden, however, was largely considered to be most likely of all of the candidates to beat Trump in a general election.

The perception that Biden is the most electable could play a bigger role this year as the party picks a nominee. According to Reuters/Ipsos polling over the past few years, Democrats appear to be increasingly interested in simply finding a candidate who can win in the November general election.

According to the poll, 15% of Democrats said the main reason they were supporting a particular candidate was because they felt that candidate could win. In comparison, only 7% of Democrats said that in a similar poll that was conducted in August and September of 2015.

The Reuters/Ipsos poll was conducted online, in English, throughout the United States. It gathered responses from 1,116 adults in all, including 479 Democrats and 144 independents. It has a credibility interval, a measure of precision, of 5 percentage points.

To view the full poll results, click here tmsnrt.rs/2NbiZak. (tmsnrt.rs/2NbiZak)

For a graphic on support for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, click here tmsnrt.rs/2Ypr9iS. (tmsnrt.rs/2Ypr9iS)

Reporting by Chris Kahn in New York; Editing by Matthew Lewis



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Sanders leads, with Warren, Buttigieg, Biden chasing in Iowa Democratic poll


WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders has taken a narrow lead among Democratic presidential candidates in the important early-voting state of Iowa in a tight battle with three rivals, a poll released by the state’s largest newspaper showed on Friday.

Iowa voters cast ballots in Feb. 3 party caucuses in the first contest in the state-by-state process of selecting a Democratic challenger to Republican President Donald Trump in the Nov. 3 general election. Thirteen Democrats are in the race.

The poll found a clear top tier of four candidates competing in Iowa. Sanders received support from 20% of respondents in the poll, with the next three candidates – U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg and former Vice President Joe Biden – in a statistical tie behind him in the poll conducted by Iowa polling firm Selzer & Co and released by the Des Moines Register newspaper.

The poll found Warren at 17%, Buttigieg at 16% and Biden at 15%. Buttigieg experienced the biggest drop in support compared to the same poll conducted in November, losing 9 percentage points.

The remainder of candidates polled below 10%. Clearing 15% is important in Iowa, a state whose caucus system means supporters of candidates that do not meet a 15% threshold are forced to make a second choice.

The poll is conducted in conjunction with CNN and cable company Mediacom. The survey of 701 likely caucus attendees was conducted Jan. 2-8 and has a margin of error of 3.7 percentage points.

Finishing among the top three in Iowa has been crucial for candidates seeking their party’s nomination in past presidential races, with those who fail to do so often finding their campaigns ending before voters in New Hampshire head to the polls for the second nominating contest. New Hampshire’s primary is scheduled for Feb. 11.

The poll still found room for movement among the candidates. Only 40% of poll respondents said they had finalized their choice, with 45% saying they could still change their mind.

The poll is likely to be the final survey eligible to allow candidates to qualify under the rules set for next Tuesday’s Democratic candidate debate in the state capital Des Moines. Six candidates have qualified for the debate: Biden, Sanders, Buttigieg, Warren, U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar and businessman Tom Steyer. The results from the Des Moines Register poll will not help others qualify.

Reporting by Ginger Gibson; Editing by Leslie Adler and Will Dunham



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Warren’s plan to strip down 2005 bankruptcy bill could renew clash with Biden



The Warren plan targets a series of provisions that she has criticized for years, arguing that they benefit credit card companies and big lenders at the expense of Americans struggling with consumer, household and student debt.

Biden is not mentioned by name in Warren’s post announcing her plan, but the Massachusetts Democrat’s decision to elevate the issue with less than a month until Iowa begins its caucuses could renew a decades-old conflict with the former vice president, who during his time in the Senate backed the legislation — and, in a now-famous hearing on Capitol Hill, went toe to toe with Warren, then a law professor at Harvard who opposed it.

Warren, who has seen her poll numbers sag after a summer surge, could seek to re-create that dynamic on the debate stage next week in Iowa. Though foreign policy has dominated most of the discussion following President Donald Trump’s order to kill a top Iranian military leader in Iraq, Warren will be keen to steer the policy exchanges to more comfortable territory — and away from her position on “Medicare for All,” the single-payer health insurance plan, which has caused her problems with both moderates and the left.

Bankruptcy policy is firmer territory for Warren, who has studied and written about its effects for large parts of her professional life, and it features prominently on the palette of concerns that caused her to enter politics. Her fluency on the topic could make it a useful springboard for rejiggering the focus of the primary debate and put Biden, who is trending up in recent polls of Iowa, on the back foot.

In a Medium post, Warren picks through the 2005 bill, casting it as unfinished business from a time when she could only, as an academic, offer advice to lawmakers in Washington.

“I lost that fight in 2005, and working families paid the price,” Warren wrote, before touting her own efforts — during the Obama administration — to mitigate the legislation’s effects and establish the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

“But there are still serious problems with our bankruptcy laws today,” Warren added, “thanks in large part to that bad 2005 bill.”

The law, which was heavily backed by the banking and credit card industries, made it harder for Americans to get out of debt by filing for bankruptcy. Supporters of the measure said it would prevent financially irresponsible people from abusing the system, while opponents denounced it, saying it would hurt struggling people by increasing the regulation, documentation and costs of seeking bankruptcy protection. Bankruptcies plummeted after the law took effect, but not for the right reasons, consumer advocates argued.

Warren’s proposal would make the bankruptcy system “simple, cheap, fast, and flexible,” she wrote. It would merge the two types of consumer bankruptcy filings — Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 — into one, offering filers a “menu of options” for dealing with their unpaid debt. It would eliminate what she termed “burdensome paperwork” that makes bankruptcy more expensive, deterring some from filing. It would reverse the 2005 law’s requirement that filers seek pre-filing credit counseling, as well as the additional rules it placed on consumer bankruptcy attorneys.

She would also reduce the cost of filing and make it easier for people to keep their homes and cars during bankruptcy. The proposal would make it harder for the wealthy to shield assets in trusts and would crack down on companies that violate consumer financial protection laws while trying to collect on debts.

And in a move that would further solidify her progressive credentials, Warren proposes to end the ban on shedding student loan debt in bankruptcy.

Warren criticized Biden over his role in crafting the 2005 bill earlier in the presidential campaign. On the day he entered the race in April 2019, she sought to sharpen the old battle lines.

“I got in that fight because (families) just didn’t have anyone and Joe Biden was on the side of the credit card companies,” Warren said after being asked about the legislation following a rally in Iowa. “It’s all a matter of public record.”

As reporters began to excavate details — including cutting op-eds by Warren — the Biden campaign snapped back, arguing that the bill, which had been vetoed in an earlier form by President Bill Clinton at the end of his second term, was a “certainty” for passage by 2005, when Republicans controlled Congress and the White House.

“Then-Sen. Biden fought for and won important concessions for middle class families in (the bill),” a Biden spokesman said in May, “including protecting access to Chapter 7 forgiveness for working people, making child support and alimony the number one priority for debt payments — in front of big banks and credit card companies — and forcing credit card companies to warn borrowers about their interest rates.”



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Fact check: Biden again dishonestly suggests he opposed the Iraq War from the beginning



Biden was responding Saturday to a voter in Des Moines, Iowa, who told him, “I’m with you 90% of the way” but questioned his judgment in part because “you were for the second Gulf War, which was a mess.”

Biden said that “from the very moment” President George W. Bush launched his “shock and awe” military campaign, and “right after” that occurred, “I opposed what he was doing, and spoke to him.”

It’s false that Biden opposed the war from the moment Bush started it in March 2003. Biden repeatedly spoke in favor of the war both before and after it began.

Biden’s language on Saturday — saying he opposed “what he was doing” at the moment the war commenced — was more vague than his language in September, when he flatly said he had opposed “the war” at that moment. But the new version was highly misleading even under the most generous interpretation.

On both occasions — and on another occasion earlier this week — Biden created the impression that he had been against the war at a key moment when he was actually a vocal supporter.

What Biden said

When Biden has been asked in recent months about his past position on the war, his responses have been very similar.

He said Saturday — as he did at a Democratic debate in July, in an NPR interview in September, and to a New Hampshire editorial board on Monday — that he only voted in 2002 to authorize Bush to use force against Iraq because Bush had privately promised him that he was only trying to get weapons inspectors into the country. (Bush’s office denies that Bush said this.)
In July, Biden continued: “From the moment ‘shock and awe’ started, from that moment, I was opposed to the effort, and I was outspoken as much as anyone at all in the Congress and the administration.”
Biden’s September rendition to NPR was the most direct: “Before you know it, we had ‘shock and awe.’ Immediately, the moment it started, I came out against the war, at that moment.”

The Saturday version went like this: “The president then went ahead with ‘shock and awe,’ and right after that — and from the very moment he did that, right after that — I opposed what he was doing, and spoke to him.”

How the Biden team has explained

After journalists noted in September that it was false that Biden came out “against the war” right at its start, a campaign adviser, Antony Blinken, told The Washington Post’s fact checker Glenn Kessler that Biden “misspoke.” Biden himself acknowledged to New Hampshire voters that he had made a “misrepresentation.”

Blinken and Biden explained in September that Biden had been opposed to how Bush went to war and how Bush was carrying out the war.

“The extent to which I misspoke was — my public statements were that we were doing this all the wrong way,” Biden said at a September television event organized by Manchester, New Hampshire, television station WMUR, according to a WMUR article on the event. He also said, “The misrepresentation was how quickly I said I was immediately against the war. I was against the war internally and trying to put together coalitions to try change the way in which the war was conducted.”

Biden’s Saturday claim to have immediately opposed “what he was doing” was more ambiguous than the September claim to have immediately come out “against the war.” The campaign did not say he “misspoke” this time.

“The Vice President was referring to how he immediately opposed the specific way we went to war — without giving diplomacy and the weapons inspectors a chance to succeed, based on hyped intelligence, without sufficient allies and without a plan for the day after — and the manner in which the war was being carried out,” Biden campaign spokesman Andrew Bates said in an email. “He has taken responsibility for his vote for 15 years, calling it out as a mistake in 2005. And that mistake, together with the entirety of his long and distinguished record in national security and foreign policy, has informed his views ever since.”

Nonetheless.

Biden’s Saturday account included not even a hint of acknowledgment that he had actually supported the war. And given that the voter’s question was about his support for the war, Biden created an inaccurate impression by mentioning “shock and awe” and then immediately saying he opposed what Bush “was doing.”

If he meant he opposed particular aspects of Bush’s handling of the war rather than that he opposed the war itself, he could have specified.

Biden supported the war

As CNN’s KFILE team explained in detail, Biden did not oppose the war from the beginning. He repeatedly expressed support for the war as a Delaware senator — though he did, as the campaign said, criticize Bush for how he handled the diplomacy, the conduct of the war and the pre-war intelligence.
Biden did call his 2002 vote a “mistake” beginning in 2005. But he endorsed the invasion right before and after it occurred, did so again in public remarks later in 2003, and continued to argue into 2004 that the US should keep up the fight in Iraq.
You can read a detailed rundown of Biden’s comments about the war here. Since his repeated claim has centered upon the “moment” the war began, we’ll focus in this article on what he said as the war was starting.
Speaking on CNN on March 19, 2003, the day the war began, Biden acknowledged Democrats’ “frustration” with Bush’s diplomatic efforts but said, “I think it’s time we stop all that. We have one single focus. And that is, we’re about to send our women and men to war. The president is the commander-in-chief. We voted to give him the authority to wage that war. We should step back and be supportive.”

He also said: “There’s a lot of us who voted for giving the president the authority to take down Saddam Hussein if he didn’t disarm. And there are those who believe, at the end of the day, even though it wasn’t handled all that well, we still have to take him down.”

On March 20, 2003 Biden again lamented Bush’s diplomatic efforts. But Biden told interviewer Charlie Rose that he had believed “all along” that “the right decision is to separate him from his weapons and/or separate him from power.”

Rose said: “If the UN didn’t do it — do it?” Biden responded: “Yes, you gotta do it.”

CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski and Sarah Mucha contributed to this article.



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