EMMETSBURG, Iowa — Former Vice President Joe Biden on Monday said he didn’t need Barack Obama’s endorsement in the Democratic primary, even if the field were down to three people.
He also scoffed at the notion that Sen. Elizabeth Warren is building enthusiasm and accused Mayor Pete Buttigieg of stealing his plans.
In a wide-ranging interview aboard his campaign bus during an eight-day tour through Iowa, Biden talked to reporters about his prospects in Iowa, the likely strength of his campaign going into Super Tuesday and his relationship with the former president.
Biden reiterated that he asked Obama not to endorse him, and he stuck by that stance even when asked whether he’d want Obama’s backing if the field narrowed to three people.
“No, because everyone knows I’m close with him,” Biden said. “I don’t need an Obama endorsement.”
Biden went on to say that as Obama’s vice presidential pick, he provided crucial relationships with the base of the Democratic Party, including with African Americans. Biden and a POLITICO Magazine article recently reported how Obama had confided in another that his former vice president “really doesn’t have it” when it comes to an intimate connection with voters.
“He may have said that. And if it’s true, and he said it, there’s truth to it,” Biden acknowledged on Monday before saying that he has “mostly campaigned for other people in the time I’ve been here. And I’ve never been in a position seeking the nomination where I have had the money and the organization to be able to get open headquarters all over the state.”
On his prospects in Iowa and beyond, Biden said that if he won the first caucus state, it would be “awful hard to stop me from winning the nomination.”
Biden lamented media coverage that he said dismissed his candidacy because he was too moderate. Biden said the field was now moving closer to his views and away from the left. When asked whether he had set the stage for Buttigieg, who is leading in the polls in Iowa, Biden grew animated.
“Set it up? He stole it! Set it up?” Biden said of the mayor of South Bend, Ind. When asked whether Buttigieg now had the enthusiasm and the moderate positioning, he again scoffed. “No, he doesn’t have the enthusiasm and the moderate — moderate plan. It’s the Biden plan.”
The former vice president then accused the media of going too easy on Buttigieg, saying his opponent had once supported a more liberal health care plan but then pivoted.
Biden contended that if he had supported a different plan “and then I came along with the exact same plan, what would you have done to me? You would have torn my ears off. Absolutely, I would be a plagiarizing, no good, old man who did bum bum bum.”
When asked about another polling leader in Iowa and elsewhere — Warren — Biden dismissed her rise and the notion that she had momentum behind her.
“Look at the polling everywhere. Tell me. Tell me where the polling has manifested itself,” he said. “She lives in Massachusetts, she’s invested millions and millions of dollars in New Hampshire, why shouldn’t she be known there?” Biden kept demanding examples of big crowds for Warren.
“Oh, great, she had a showing in Chicago,” Biden said sarcastically. “By the way, that’s a wonderful thing. Show me any numbers.”
Marc Caputo contributed to this report.