Joe Biden is staying silent on whether he believes his biggest Democrat rival, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), could unite the party and defeat President Donald Trump in 2020.
The former vice president, who has openly sparred with Sanders over social security in recent weeks, was asked during a campaign swing through Iowa if he believed his rival could unify Democrats. Biden, when responding, refused to answer the question directly, arguing it was important for candidates to treat each other with respect during the primary process.
“We have to unite,” the former vice president told reporters on Tuesday. “I’m not going to make judgments now. I just think that it depends upon how we treat one another between now and the time we have a nominee.”
The decision to remain silent comes as Biden and Sanders have accused one another of dishonesty. The fight stems from several top Sanders aides circulating old videos of Biden on social media in which the former vice president seems to imply he supports cutting social security. There are several videos spanning his career, ranging from his time as a United States senator to as recently as 2018. Although many of the videos lack proper context, in at least one, Biden is shown discussing his support for an austere federal budget, in which Social Security and Medicare would be put “on the table.”
Biden, for his part, has responded by accusing the Sanders campaign of circulating doctored footage in an attempt to misstate his position.
“I’m looking for his campaign to come forward and disown it,” the former vice president said this month when discussing the issue.
The Sanders campaign, though, has refused to budge. Not only are they claiming the initial criticism of Biden’s stance on Social Security was correct, but a number of Sanders’ top aides and surrogates have stepped up their attacks on the former vice president.
As Seniors learn about all that Biden has said about making cuts in social security, they are leaving his campaign and supporting Bernie. https://t.co/WgAWf0t2qQ
— Shaun King (@shaunking) January 28, 2020
Biden’s new comments on his record pushing to cut Social Security: “That was 20 years ago.” Then the reporter says Biden’s position has changed and Biden says it “hasnt changed.” Then Biden falsely claims “(Bernie) hasnt been consistent on Social Security” pic.twitter.com/bnJ9gHsxXm
— David Sirota (@davidsirota) January 27, 2020
In the wake of such rebukes, the Biden campaign has reportedly begun asking its supporters to be more vocal in defending the former vice president on social media.