Warren-Biden
November 12, 2019

Former Vice President Joe Biden answered questions at a CNN town hall in Grinnell, Iowa, on Monday night. The most contentious moment was when an audience member asked Biden why he doesn't support Medicare-for-all, and Biden used the occasion to escalate his barely veiled feud with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and, to a lesser extent, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

Biden called the Medicare-for-all plan too expensive, politically unattainable, and "elitist," arguing that switching to only a government-run health care plan conveys "the attitude that we know better than ordinary people what's in their interests." When pressed on his attacks on Warren specifically, Biden said that "she attacked me" first, later asserting that he isn't calling Warren herself "elitist," exactly. "It's not about her, it's about the attitude out there — the attitude that we know best, you do it my way," he said. "I resent that. And I wasn't talking about her, I was talking about the attitude that if you don't agree with me, get in the other party."

Biden also gave contradictory assessments of how congressional Republicans would act if a Democrat defeats President Trump. First he discussed calling 12 Republican senators when the GOP-led Senate stonewalled President Barack Obama's Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland in 2016, recounting that they told him they knew they were shredding the Constitution, but "Joe, I'm in a state where if in fact the Koch brothers drop in $10, $12 million, I will lose the primary.'" Biden also said, without explaining his thought process: "I honest to God believe, with Trump out of the way, you're going to find people screwing up a lot more courage than they had before to say, 'Okay, okay, I can move now, I have more leeway.'"

And Biden shrugged off the electoral impact of the House impeaching Trump, saying "the House has no option, it has to enforce the Constitution," and arguing that if Democrats make a strong case against the president, some independents and Republicans will be persuaded. Peter Weber

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