U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg took incoming fire on electability issues from former Vice President Joe Biden and other rivals in the eighth presidential primary debate as Democrats search for a candidate capable of beating President Trump in November.
The debate Friday night in Manchester, N.H., was the last meeting of the candidates before the Granite State’s primary on Tuesday, and candidates did not shy away from drawing attention to their rivals’ perceived political vulnerabilities.
“The president wants very much to stick a label on every candidate,” Biden said of how Trump would treat the eventual Democratic nominee. “Bernie’s labeled himself — not me — a democratic socialist. I think that’s the label the president’s going to lay on everyone running with Bernie if he’s the nominee.”
Candidates also repeatedly hit Buttigieg on his experience, arguing the 38-year-old may not be equipped to beat Trump.
“He’s the mayor of a small city,” Biden said before going on to list several of his own major policy accomplishments as a U.S. senator and as former President Barack Obama’s vice president, defending his “politics of the past” as effective. Biden touted his work on the Violence Against Women Act, Obama’s economic stimulus package and same-sex marriage.
Billionaire Democratic booster Tom Steyer also piled on: “That’s why I’m worried about Mayor Pete. You need to be able to go toe-to-toe with this guy [Trump] and take him down on the debate stage or you’re going to lose.”
Race and reparations
The candidates also sparred over issues related to race, with Steyer calling for reparations for African-Americans and Buttigieg clashing with Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., on criminal justice.
The ABC News moderators threw Buttigieg against a wall on his time as the South Bend mayor, noting, over his objections, that the rate of black arrests for drug possession increased after he took office.
“We adopted a strategy that said that drug enforcement would be targeted in cases where there was a connection to the most violent group or gang connected to a murder,” Buttigieg said. “These things are all connected, but that’s the point.”
When asked whether Buttigieg’s answer was sufficient, Warren was terse.
“No,” she said. “You have to own up to the facts, and it’s important to own up to the facts of how race has totally permeated our criminal justice system.”
Biden also questioned Buttigieg’s ability to attract support from minorities.
“Mayor Buttigieg is a great guy and a real patriot,” Biden said. “[He] has not demonstrated he has the ability to, and we’ll soon find out, to get a broad scope of support across the spectrum, including African-Americans and Latinos.”
You can read the rest of Tyler Olson’s article at FoxNews.com