Former Vice President Joe Biden just declared war on “the squad.”
In an on-screen interview with Axios, which will air this weekend on HBO, Biden fired back against allegations that the Democratic Party has moved leftward, and suggested that Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and other recently elected progressives don’t represent the future of the party as much as they represent a new party, entirely separate from the Democrats’ apparatus.
Asked about whether the rise of progressive Democrats and “Democratic socialists” were a reaction to Hillary Clinton’s dramatic loss to now-President Donald Trump in 2016, Biden demurred.
“You guys got it all wrong about what happened,” he said, claiming that the media portrays the Democratic voter base as more liberal and left-leaning than they truly are, according to Axios.
“It’s just bad judgment,” he added. “You all thought that what happened was the party moved extremely to the left after Hillary. AOC was a new party, She’s a bright, wonderful person. But where’s the party? Come on, man.”
Biden told “Axios on HBO” that he believes his rivals for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination are, in fact, misreading the party, and that Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) appeal to a narrow segment of voters who tend to be more vocal, but who don’t represent the Democratic base as a whole.
“The party’s not there. The party’s not there at all,” Biden said, referring to where Warren and Sanders fall on the political spectrum. He reportedly added that he believes both Warren and Sanders have misread Democratic voters and are appealing to the wrong segment of primary voters.
Biden isn’t saying anything new. He’s long insisted that he’s a more moderate choice for the Democratic nominee, even if his long legislative history could be read a number of different ways. Ultimately, he’s pushing the idea that he’s the most electable among the Democratic frontrunners — a theory borne out by recent polls, which show only Biden giving Trump a difficult time in battleground states like Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Florida.
But there’s a significant development here: Biden mentions Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez by name, calling out the up-and-coming “Democratic socialist” wing of the party directly, and suggesting that members of the “squad” and their allies are a small segment of a larger Democratic party and not the future of the Democratic party as Ocasio-Cortez and her Justice Democrats insist.
That may be true. Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez seem to be presiding over a static element of the Democratic Party, and both Sanders and Warren are vying for the same group of potential primary voters — mostly young, white, highly educated voters in urban centers. But until now, most of the candidates targeting the middle — Biden and South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg, included — have resisted the urge to suggest the progressive left isn’t part of the party.
The good news for Biden is that his newfound opposition to a leftward moving party may play well with voters in early primary states like Iowa, South Carolina, and Nevada, where progressive ideas, like Medicare for All, don’t seem to be resonating with voters.