Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro is not backing down from his much-criticized attack on former Vice President Joe Biden during this week’s Democratic primary debate.
The former Obama administration Secretary of Housing and Urban Development defended himself against the backlash that erupted over his questioning of Biden about his memory during the debate, telling MSNBC’s Chuck Todd that critics “missed the bar completely” on his remarks.
“In fact, as I understand, one of the things they said was that the fact that people would have to fill out paperwork under Vice President Biden’s plan versus not having to do anything is basically inconsequential, it doesn’t amount to anything,” Castro said on “Meet the Press Daily” Friday.
The 2020 contender was debating Biden on healthcare when he made the comment which he claimed had nothing to do with the former vice president’s age but with what he saw as a contradiction of whether uninsured Americans could voluntarily buy into his proposed public healthcare plan or would be automatically enrolled.
Castro’s cheap shot on Biden haunts him long after debate https://t.co/H9nQuAMRNR
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) September 13, 2019
The 2020 rivals clashed over their versions of a “Medicare-for-all” plan and whose would best represent the intention of former President Barack Obama’s health care vision before Castro called out Biden.
“You just said two minutes ago they would have to buy in. Are you forgetting what you said two minutes ago?” he asked and set off a firestorm of criticism.
Castro not only came under fire for what looked to many to be an attack on Biden’s age, but was also taken to task for arguing over an “exaggeration,” as PolitiFact claimed:
Castro’s plan is an opt-out plan while Biden’s is an opt-in plan, but the differences between those are much less than Castro suggests. Biden’s plan would guarantee Americans who are in need access to Medicare coverage, just like Castro’s would. The differences would likely amount to the nature or timing of paperwork, rather than being significant barriers to access.
Castro used this questionable distinction to charge that Biden had said opposing things within two minutes, but that’s an exaggeration at best.
“I don’t know who they hire at PolitiFact but it’s obviously not somebody that has dealt with a working family or the realities of why people fall off insurance or other things where there’s an onerous process. I do take issue with that,” Castro told Todd on Friday.
“Do you think there’s a big difference between his paperwork and your paperwork?” the MSNBC host asked, contending that out the opt-in versus opt-out contrast was a “petty difference.”
“That’s a big difference,” Castro replied.
“Right now there are over 27 million people who are uncovered,” he went on. “There would still be 10 million people uncovered under Vice President Biden’s plan.”
Castro again attempted to show that Biden had backtracked over his previous comments and that was the reason he had called him out.
“This was a disagreement about health care policy. People can try to make it whatever they want,” Castro explained. “He said very clearly that some folks would have to buy in. I said, you just said that and he said, no, they wouldn’t have to buy in. That’s why I said, look, it seems like you’re forgetting that you just said that some people would have to buy in.”
“This is what these debates are for,” he added after Todd pressed him again.
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