With former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg besting Joe Biden in Iowa — supposedly, as final results remain elusive, if not sketchy — the former vice president took the gloves off in a stinging ad targeting his openly gay opponent.
Of course, coming in fourth in Iowa, it may be now or never for Biden. Even more so, given that Buttigieg leads him by better than 10 points in New Hampshire.
The 37-year-old former municipal administrator ran a city of just over 100,000, and Biden reminded voters that was a far cry from the world stage he has played on — of course, the results of that performance are up to interpretation, given one’s point of view.
The ad came out after Friday’s debate on ABC, which saw Buttigieg get a little bloody in an exchange with Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., over experience. In the spot, the records of the two men were compared, with the scales heavily tipped toward Biden.
“When President Obama called on him, Joe Biden helped lead the passage of the Affordable Care Act — which gave health care to 20 million people,” the ad said. “And when park-goers called on Pete Buttigieg, he installed decorative lights under bridges, giving citizens of South Bend colorfully illuminated rivers.”
And it gets worse.
“Both Vice President Biden and former Mayor Buttigieg have taken on tough fights,” the ad declared. “Under threat of nuclear Iran, Joe Biden helped to negotiate the Iran deal. And under the threat of disappearing pets, Buttigieg negotiated lighter licensing regulations on pet chip scanners.”
With Buttigieg struggling to woo African-American voters, the Biden campaign made sure to include a dig here too.
“Both Biden and Buttigieg have made hard decisions,” the ad said. “Despite pressure from the NRA, Joe Biden passed the assault weapons ban through Congress. Then he passed the Violence Against Women Act.”
“And when public pressure mounted against him, former Mayor Pete fired the first African American Police Chief of South Bend,” the ad then stated. “And then he forced out the African American fire chief too.”
Biden also upped the ante on the stump, taking a shot at Buttigieg on Saturday when a reporter compared Buttigieg’s lack of experience to that of Barack Obama, asking if the tactic was “an act of desperation.”
“Oh, come on, man,” Biden replied. “This guy is not a Barack Obama. Barack Obama had been a United States senator of a really large state. Barack Obama had laid out a clear vision of what he thought the international society should look like. Barack Obama had laid out in detail what he thought should happen to the economy.”
Joe Biden rips Pete Buttigieg: “This guy’s not Barack Obama … This is a very different situation.” pic.twitter.com/NwH3suM7W1
— Marc Caputo (@MarcACaputo) February 8, 2020
Buttigieg’s response to the ding on having small-town experience has been to say “that’s exactly the point” of him running, that he is not a Washington insider.
His campaign responded to the Biden campaign ad with a statement taking a shot at big government.
“While Washington politics trivializes what goes on in communities like South Bend, South Bend residents who now have better jobs, rising income, and new life in their city don’t think their lives are a Washington politician’s punchline,” the release said.
Team Pete response: “The Vice President’s decision to run this ad speaks more to where he currently stands in this race than it does about Pete’s perspective as a mayor and veteran.” https://t.co/TTPK8dUJaT pic.twitter.com/rraPAfC0bg
— Eli Yokley (@eyokley) February 8, 2020
And there was the prerequisite response from an offended small-town mayor:
As the Mayor of Nashua, NH I am disappointed in this. Mayors must solve problems and get things done. Many Mayors are working on projects like this one. https://t.co/lxi2c8Aefs
— Mayor Jim Donchess (@JimDonchess) February 8, 2020
Here’s a quick sampling of a few other online responses to the Biden ad:
Listen, Jack – pic.twitter.com/3nu8rCJzVi
— Postopher Americano (@postXamerica) February 7, 2020
— Spenser (@WetDog86) February 9, 2020
This video now has more views than the population of South Bend.https://t.co/I60XsdDSjw
— Rob Flaherty (@Rob_Flaherty) February 8, 2020
This ad was released after Pete took some big hits on experience from Klobuchar last night, but I’d argue is more aimed at shaping the race after New Hampshire – the part of the ad about Pete letting go of African American police/fire chiefs could be impactful in South Carolina.
— Josh Jordan (@NumbersMuncher) February 8, 2020
Biden campaign lists Buttigieg’s accomplishments as decorative lights, pet licensing and decorative bricks – then throws in mention of his firing an African-American police chief, contrasts to his work for Obama
then subtly: WE’RE ELECTING A PRESIDENT https://t.co/svY0JtSjT9
— Edward-Isaac Dovere (@IsaacDovere) February 8, 2020