Joe Biden defended the record of his former running mate, President Barack Obama, on Thursday, but admitted “the world” and Democrats have “changed.”
Biden made the remarks to reporters in Detroit, Michigan one day after a number of the candidates vying for the Democrat nomination eviscerated Obama’s record on immigration, healthcare, and trade at the party’s second presidential debate.
“I’m proud of having served with him, I’m proud of the job he did, I don’t think there’s anything he has to apologize for,” Biden said. “I think, you know, it kind of surprised me to the degree of the criticism.”
The former vice president argued it was important to focus on the things that President Donald Trump “has broken” at the upcoming debates, instead of “all of these mistakes” Obama is alleged to have made.
“I want to make it clear this going back 10-20-30 years is just a game … to make sure we hand the Republicans an election coming up,” Biden said. “Look folks, there’s a lot of thing everybody has done in their past and voters that no longer have a context today.”
A reporter asked Biden how his four years in the Oval Office would be different than Obama’s eight. Biden responded by saying “the world” had moved on from his old running mate.
“The world has changed since Obama,” he said. “Here’s the deal, this is about the future and taking the same kind of integrity and moving beyond it … look this is three years later, the world has changed.”
Biden quickly transitioned into attacking Trump’s record on both the domestic and foreign policy fronts, before reporters steered the conversation back to Obama and the direction of the Democrat Party. In response, Biden claimed that he was representative of the “vast majority” of the party.
“It’s not about moving left or right,” the former vice president said. “I think I represent the party, I think my views are where the vast majority of the Democratic Party are … The one thing we have to focus is … what it is we can do together?”
At the debate on Wednesday, several candidates, including those who served in Obama’s administration like ex-House Secretary Julian Castro, lambasted the former president’s tenure.
Castro, in particular, criticized Obama’s grasp of the Department of Homeland Secretary, saying his concern with decriminalizing illegal border crossings was merely a “right-wing talking point.”
When Biden attempted to defend his former running mate, Castro, and later New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, turned the criticisms directly on him.
“Did you say those deportations were a good idea or did you go to the president and say, ‘this is a mistake, we shouldn’t do it,’” de Blasio asked Biden when criticizing the rise in deportations under Obama. “Which one?”
While Biden attempted to defend the former president on certain issues, he also openly bucked him on the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) by saying he would not rejoin the deal as it stood. That, however, appeared not to be enough to pacify some on the debate stage.
“You can’t have it both ways. You invoke President Obama more than anybody in this campaign,” Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) told Biden. “You can’t do it when it’s convenient and then dodge it when it’s not.”