Democrat presidential candidate Joe Biden faced backlash over a digital ad that his campaign released on Saturday taking aim at fellow candidate Pete Buttigieg over his record as mayor of South Bend, Indiana.
The ad compared and contrasted both candidate’s records while they were elected officials, and was criticized as being a “homophobic dog whistle.”
“Barack Obama called Joe Biden ‘the best vice president America’s ever had,’ but Pete Buttigieg doesn’t think much of the vice president’s record,” the ad began. “Let’s compare.”
“When President Obama called on him, Joe Biden helped lead the passage of the Affordable Care Act, which gave health care to 20 million people,” the ad said. “And when park-goers called on Pete Buttigieg, he installed decorative lights under bridges giving citizens of South Bend colorfully illuminated rivers.”
“Both Vice President Biden and former Mayor Buttigieg have taken on tough fights. Under threat of a nuclear Iran, Joe Biden helped negotiate the Iran deal. And under threat of disappearing pets, Buttigieg negotiated lighter licensing regulations on pet chip scanners.”
“Both Vice President Biden and former Mayor Pete have helped shape our economy. Joe Biden helped save the auto industry, which revitalized the economy of the Midwest, and led the passage and implementation of The Recovery Act, saving our economy from a depression,” the ad continued. “Pete Buttigieg revitalized the sidewalks of downtown South Bend by laying out decorative brick.”
“And both Biden and Buttigieg have made hard decisions. Despite pressure from the NRA, Joe Biden passed the assault weapons ban through Congress, then he passed the Violence Against Women Act,” the ad added. “And when public pressure mounted against him, former Mayor Pete fired the first African American Police Chief of South Bend, and then he forced out the African American fire chief, too.”
“We’re electing a president,” the ad concluded. “What you’ve done matters.”
Former Mayor Pete doesn’t think very highly of the Obama-Biden record. Let’s compare. pic.twitter.com/132TB7MHaq
— Joe Biden (Text Join to 30330) (@JoeBiden) February 8, 2020
There was a good amount of support for the ad online from Democrats who dislike Buttigieg or who like Biden, and from Republicans who enjoyed watching the fighting between the two.
National Review Washington Correspondent John McCormack noted: “‘colorful lights…’ ‘decorative brick…’ If a Republican released this ad…”
“colorful lights…” “decorative brick…”
If a Republican released this ad… https://t.co/FpfNjGGD5q
— John McCormack (@McCormackJohn) February 8, 2020
HuffPost media reporter Daniel Marans also raised the question of whether the ad was homophobic.
Popular Twitter account Comfortably Smug wrote: “This whole ad is a homophobic dog whistle: decorative sidewalks and lights and pet adoption? Discomfort with African Americans? WHAT IS BIDEN SAYING?”
This whole ad is a homophobic dog whistle: decorative sidewalks and lights and pet adoption? Discomfort with African Americans? WHAT IS BIDEN SAYING? https://t.co/9cfLTottwO
— Comfortably Smug (@ComfortablySmug) February 8, 2020
Columnist John Nolte attacked the ad for a different reason, writing: “I dislike #MayoPete as much as Burisma Joe, but this ad is terrible; Biden big-shotting a guy for being a small town mayor and the little quality of life issues that matter to era people.”
I dislike #MayoPete as much as Burisma Joe, but this ad is terrible; Biden big-shotting a guy for being a small town mayor and the little quality of life issues that matter to era people. https://t.co/JTlMUbPCTk
— John Ocasio-Nolte (@NolteNC) February 8, 2020
Republican National Committee (RNC) Rapid Response Director Steve Guest noted that Biden’s ad left out potentially more damaging on Buttigieg.
“Interesting choice that the Biden campaign didn’t mention this too: As Mayor, Pete Buttigieg Saw His Own Street Repaved,” Guest wrote. “Or this. Mayor Pete was so derelict in improving the roads of South Bend, Domino’s Pizza stepped up to help: South Bend receives $5,000 grant from Domino’s Pizza to fill potholes.”
Mayor Pete was so derelict in improving the roads of South Bend, Domino's Pizza stepped up to help:
South Bend receives $5,000 grant from Domino's Pizza to fill potholeshttps://t.co/5qAwQ6KlHq
— Steve Guest (@SteveGuest) February 8, 2020