Joe Biden’s deputy campaign manager tore into Democratic presidential primary rival Julián Castro, rightly calling his mocking tone challenging the former vice president’s memory “classless.”
During perhaps the most high-profile exchange of Thursday night’s debate in Houston, Texas, Castro — also an Obama administration alum, serving as secretary of Housing and Urban Development — took what came off as a direct shot at Biden’s age and mental fitness.
The two sparred on how people would be covered by their respective health care plans.
Castro charged Biden with changing his tune on whether people would have to opt into his government plan or be automatically enrolled.
PolitiFact ruled Castro was making much to do about nothing because the contrast he was trying to draw between the two plans was almost a distinction without a difference.
Biden’s plan offers a government option to which most would have to opt-in; however, millions of lower-income Americans, including those on Medicaid, would automatically be enrolled.
Castro seized on that “automatic” wording and tried to pummel the former vice president with it, saying he was contradicting himself about how people would be enrolled.
“You just said two minutes ago that they would have to buy in,” Castro said.
Biden tried to make the distinction by explaining that Medicaid recipients would be automatically enrolled, but Castro kept going, taking on almost a schoolyard jeering tone.
“Are you forgetting what you said two minutes ago?” Castro said. “Are you forgetting already what you said two minutes ago? I mean, I can’t believe you said two minutes ago that they had to buy in and now you’re saying you don’t have to buy-in. You’re forgetting that!”
We got it after the first time you asked, Mr. Castro. The audience at the event clearly did, too, as gasps, boos, and some cheers could be heard.
With the first challenge to Democratic Presidential candidate front runner Joe Biden at tonight’s debate, Julian Castro attacks the former Vice President’s healthcare plan. #DemDebate pic.twitter.com/9JYKqAyl3r
— Derek Watson (@derekdwatson) September 13, 2019
After the debate, Castro tried to do some cleanup, explaining in multiple interviews that his comments had nothing to do with Biden’s age.
“It didn’t matter that it was Joe Biden,” he said on CNN early Friday morning. “If it had been another candidate that tried to deny what they just said two minutes ago, I would have asked them the same thing.”
Three times questioning Biden if he forgets what he said two minutes ago? I don’t think so.
Biden’s deputy campaign manager, Kate Bedingfield, was not buying it.
“He was wrong on the facts,” Bedingfield told MSNBC on Friday. “He came at Vice President Biden in a very personal and disrespectful way and was also actually factually wrong about his attack.”