In Mason City, Biden downplays tensions with Sanders over Social Security

Bernie Sanders (left) and Joe Biden - AP images

Joe Biden sought on Wednesday to ease tensions with Democratic presidential rival Bernie Sanders after the two candidates exchanged several volleys over Social Security and other matters.

Posted: Jan 22, 2020 10:36 AM
Updated: Jan 22, 2020 10:44 AM

MASON CITY, Iowa (AP) — Joe Biden sought on Wednesday to ease tensions with Democratic presidential rival Bernie Sanders after the two candidates exchanged several volleys over Social Security and other matters.

And the former vice president pledged in a wide-ranging interview with MSNBC that if he reaches the White House, he would not agree to any budget deal that curtails Social Security benefits.

Find more Election 2020 coverage here. 

Biden demurred on “Morning Joe” when asked whether Sanders had “lied” when he and his campaign aides asserted Biden sought to cut Social Security benefits over his decades in public office. Biden also noted that Sanders apologized to him after one of the Vermont senator’s top supporters wrote that the former vice president has a “corruption” problem.

“Sometimes campaign staff gets a little ahead of the candidate,” Biden said, later adding, “I accept his apology, and I hope we can argue on the facts.”

Biden's comments come at a tumultuous moment in the Democratic primary as candidates are increasingly feuding with each other on multiple fronts. Tensions within the party soared on Tuesday after The Hollywood Reporter published an interview in which Hillary Clinton ripped into Sanders, reigniting divisions from the 2016 campaign and raising concerns that Democrats may struggle to unify behind a nominee this year and defeat President Donald Trump.

Still, the acrimony between Sanders and Biden isn't likely to dissipate completely as they vie for every advantage with less than two weeks until the Feb. 3 Iowa caucuses. Just Tuesday night, Biden’s campaign released a video accusing Sanders of “dishonest” attacks, while Sanders’ official Twitter account countered: “Let’s be honest, Joe. One of us fought for decades to cut Social Security, and one of us didn’t.”

Sanders attached audio of speeches Biden gave as a Delaware senator advocating for budget deals that would have curtailed entitlement spending over time. As a senator, Biden was a supporter of a balanced-budget constitutional amendment, but he maintains that he would not have “cut” Social Security benefits as part of the deals.

“My support for Social Security has been solid my entire career,” Biden said. “I did join with a lot of other Democrats, made it solvent during the Reagan years.”

In his current campaign, Biden proposes expanding Social Security benefits and raising more revenue by lifting the cap on the income that is subject to Social Security payroll taxes. He did tacitly acknowledge that he’s moved leftward over the years on Social Security, however, comparing his long Senate record with Sanders’ legislative history on gun rights. Sanders “voted to protect gun manufacturers,” Biden said, referring to Sanders’ vote to give weapons makers immunity from civil liability. Clinton skewered Sanders over that position in their 2016 nominating fight.

“He’s indicated that was past,” Biden said, suggesting Sanders’ current positions on guns should be acceptable to Democratic primary voters.

The former vice president was not so charitable about the Senate’s impeachment trial of Trump.

“I was embarrassed for the institution,” Biden said when asked about Trump’s lawyers stating clear mistruths during the proceedings, which are expected to end with Trump’s acquittal on charges that he abused his power and obstructed Congress.

The impeachment case is pegged to Trump pressuring Ukrainian officials to launch an investigation into Biden and his son Hunter Biden, based on discredited theories about the younger Biden’s business dealings in Ukraine while his father handled U.S. foreign policy in the country as vice president.

Joe Biden predicted that Republican senators will one day be ashamed of their fealty to Trump. “I think it’s one of those things they’re going to regret when their grandchildren read in history books what they did,” Biden said. “I don’t get it. ... I think it has a lot to do with whether they can win primaries. Everybody knows how vindictive the president is.”

Indeed, Trump has shown a willingness to go after Republicans who criticize him. But most GOP senators facing reelection this year do not yet have significant opposition from within their party. Arizona Sen. Martha McSally is an exception. And newly appointed Georgia Sen. Kelly Loeffler also could draw opposition from the right.

Biden, in his interview, did not discuss the possibility that the Senate could call him or Hunter Biden as a witness. Biden has maintained that he sees no “legal basis” for his or his son’s testimony, because the House impeachment charges are about Trump’s actions.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 85813

Reported Deaths: 1985
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin25093909
Ramsey10166314
Dakota6895123
Anoka5466130
Stearns359023
Washington343155
Scott230532
Olmsted221726
Nobles191216
Blue Earth15266
Wright14637
Carver12847
Rice12748
Mower12494
St. Louis120228
Clay117940
Sherburne103813
Kandiyohi8982
Winona71418
Lyon6124
Steele4982
Nicollet48416
Watonwan4824
Todd4712
Benton4693
Freeborn4653
Le Sueur4363
McLeod4282
Chisago4131
Waseca4008
Crow Wing38818
Beltrami3554
Otter Tail3544
Goodhue3099
Martin2739
Itasca25413
Polk2534
Becker2332
Carlton2191
Isanti2190
Douglas2121
Cottonwood2110
Pipestone2049
Pine1950
Dodge1810
Morrison1811
Chippewa1801
Sibley1643
Wabasha1570
Brown1522
Meeker1522
Unassigned15052
Murray1482
Yellow Medicine1351
Rock1330
Mille Lacs1323
Faribault1280
Cass1173
Jackson1121
Renville1096
Pennington1051
Houston1040
Roseau1040
Fillmore960
Koochiching963
Swift961
Kanabec928
Redwood880
Lincoln870
Stevens871
Pope780
Aitkin681
Big Stone590
Hubbard590
Wadena590
Grant574
Wilkin553
Norman510
Lake490
Marshall481
Mahnomen421
Red Lake370
Lac qui Parle330
Traverse290
Clearwater240
Lake of the Woods201
Kittson140
Cook60

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 76376

Reported Deaths: 1239
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk14932255
Johnson488827
Woodbury467459
Black Hawk424384
Linn3615101
Story319917
Dallas262838
Scott260026
Dubuque250140
Buena Vista191312
Pottawattamie188137
Marshall174934
Wapello121657
Sioux11803
Webster117414
Muscatine105052
Clinton101818
Cerro Gordo96621
Plymouth95920
Crawford9354
Warren9146
Des Moines7117
Jasper70732
Marion6834
Tama67630
Carroll5955
Lee5697
Wright5471
Henry4744
Dickinson4596
Bremer4477
Boone4316
Washington41411
Louisa41214
Franklin32917
Hamilton3113
Mahaska30819
Delaware3053
Floyd2773
Jackson2763
Winneshiek2715
Clay2653
Hardin2651
Benton2571
Clarke2513
Butler2502
Emmet24110
Winnebago23911
Shelby2381
Jones2313
Allamakee2275
Poweshiek2278
Clayton2233
Buchanan2171
Lyon2143
Cedar2081
Guthrie2075
Chickasaw1960
Grundy1932
Madison1912
Kossuth1900
Howard1764
Fayette1741
Mitchell1710
Hancock1702
Iowa1701
Sac1690
Cherokee1682
Humboldt1682
Harrison1642
Calhoun1612
Mills1531
Pocahontas1462
Palo Alto1450
Monroe1409
Page1400
Jefferson1291
Lucas1276
Monona1251
Cass1242
Appanoose1163
Taylor1161
Osceola1120
Davis1104
Union1093
Van Buren1081
Worth990
Montgomery845
Keokuk831
Greene770
Ida760
Wayne762
Fremont690
Adair591
Decatur580
Audubon481
Ringgold402
Adams270
Unassigned220
Rochester
Clear
42° wxIcon
Hi: 61° Lo: 37°
Feels Like: 38°
Mason City
Clear
43° wxIcon
Hi: 65° Lo: 40°
Feels Like: 39°
Albert Lea
Clear
43° wxIcon
Hi: 61° Lo: 39°
Feels Like: 43°
Austin
Clear
43° wxIcon
Hi: 62° Lo: 38°
Feels Like: 43°
Charles City
Clear
45° wxIcon
Hi: 68° Lo: 40°
Feels Like: 40°
Cooler to wrap up the work week
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Community Events