The 2020 candidates attacked frontrunner Joe Biden over his abortion stance — and it's just the beginning of their pile-on

  • Democratic presidential candidates pounced on former Vice President Joe Biden after he established himself as the odd man out on abortion policy.
  • Candidates have increasingly jabbed Biden, hoping to chip away at his commanding lead over the 2020 field.
  • The massive field of candidates have largely avoided going after one another so far, but that could be rapidly changing as the first debates are around the corner.
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Since the 2020 presidential election cycle started and two dozen Democrats have jumped in the race, they have largely avoided directly criticising and going after one another. But eventually, the dam had to break.

Last week, many Democratic presidential candidates went after the man at the top of almost all polls with the highest name recognition in the race after he established himself as the odd man out on the key position of abortion: former Vice President Joe Biden.

One by one Democrats singled out Biden for maintaining his stance of being against federal funding for abortion. But within days, the Democrats all clawing for the nomination managed to force Biden to reverse his decades-long position, signalling more attacks are on the horizon.

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Biden’s reversal came only after the rest of the Democrats pounced on his support for the Hyde Amendment. Then over the weekend, Biden skipped a major event in Iowa that most of the other candidates attended. Biden’s absence resulted in more candidates jabbing the Democratic frontrunner.

“Joe Biden must really not like to travel,” said entrepreneur Andrew Yang.

During a campaign event in Iowa, South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg alluded to Biden’s calls for a return to the “normalcy” that predates President Donald Trump’s administration.

“There’s not going back to normal. Don’t listen to anybody in either party who says we can just go back to what we were doing,” Buttigieg said. “We in the LGBT community know that when we hear phrases like ‘make America great again,’ that that American past was never quite as great as advertised.”

Candidates also hammered the idea of a moderate candidate like the campaign theme Biden is shaping.

“I understand there are some well-intentioned Democrats and candidates who believe the best way forward is a middle-ground strategy that antagonizes no one, that stands up to nobody and that changes nothing,” said Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. “In my view, that approach is not just bad public policy, but it is a failed political strategy that I fear would end up with the reelection of Donald Trump.”

Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton used Biden’s flip-flop on federal abortion funding to criticise his vote to authorise the Iraq War as well.

“Bravo to [Biden] for doing the right thing and reversing his longstanding support for the Hyde Amendment,” Moulton wrote on Twitter. “It takes courage to admit when you’re wrong, especially when those decisions affect millions of people. Now do the Iraq War.”

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The constant jabs at Biden, whether subtle or direct shots, have snowballed in the past week. The first debates are just two weeks away, where Biden will have to go toe to toe with nine other qualifying candidates randomly selected to appear on stage.

And Biden could be rusty. His last formal debate was in 2012 against then-Republican vice presidential nominee and Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan. Biden’s last debate against another Democrat was back in 2008, when Buttigieg, Rep. Eric Swalwell of California, and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii were all in their 20s.

Frontrunner status makes Biden the primary target, as does carving out a lane different from the rest of the field the way Biden has, ignoring litmus tests like conducting high dollar fundraisers and praising Republicans he has worked with in the past. The small jabs at Biden could be just the beginning.

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