Former Vice President Joe Biden, a top 2020 contender, got into a verbal tussle with a voter in Iowa at a campaign event on Thursday over a question about the allegations of corruption against Biden’s son Hunter.
Furious, Biden called the man “a damn liar,” insinuated that he was stupid by challenging him to an IQ test, and made multiple references to the man’s weight, including at one point even calling him “fat.” Facing a backlash, Biden and his campaign are now denying that he called the man “fat.”
Biden calls voter “damn liar” and “fat”
The Iowa voter, who self-identified as a retired farmer, asserted that Biden’s son’s job with a Ukrainian energy firm, Burisma, looked an awful lot like “selling access to the president.” Biden angrily replied, “You’re a damn liar, man. That’s not true. And no one has ever said that.”
When the man noted that he’d seen it on TV, Biden looked him up and down and said, “You see it on the TV? No, I know you do. And by the way, I’m not sedentary. I get up …” Biden then challenged the man to a pushup contest or to go for a run to prove he was in better shape, and also challenged him to take an IQ test.
There was another angry exchange in which Biden shouted, “Get your words straight, Jack!” before calming back down and saying he didn’t want to argue. However, he then added that the man wanted to argue and said, “but look, fat, here’s the deal,” then paused, before dismissing the man and moving along with the event.
Watch for yourself:
There was quite an uproar on social media about the testy back-and-forth in general, but especially over Biden’s calling the man “fat.” In an attempt to contain the mess, senior adviser to Biden’s campaign Symone Sanders headed to Twitter.
“Let’s be clear RE: the exchange VP Biden had with a voter in Iowa earlier today: 1) the gentleman is a self identified Warren supporter who said he would vote for the VP in a general election 2) his facts were flat-out wrong and 3) the crowd backed VP Biden up in his response,” Sanders tweeted in Biden’s defense.
In a follow-up tweet addressing the “fat” allegation, she added, “To be clear: Any assertion VP Biden said a word about the gentleman’s appearance is making this something it is not. In the latter part of the exchange, the VP began to say ‘Look, facts’ then said ‘here’s the deal.’ If you’ve been to a Biden event, you’ve heard this before.”
To be clear: Any assertion VP Biden said a word about the gentleman’s appearance is making this something it is not. In the latter part of the exchange, the VP began to say “Look, facts” then said “here’s the deal.” If you’ve been to a Biden event, you’ve heard this before.
— Symone D. Sanders (@SymoneDSanders) December 5, 2019
Asked by reporters to clarify if he had called the voter “fat” later, Joe Biden said, “No, I didn’t,” according to CBS reporter Bo Erickson.
Typical campaign spin
While some of Biden’s supporters in the media have suggested this verbal altercation was a good thing for Biden because it demonstrated his spunk and vigor to take on President Donald Trump, most viewed it as an over-the-top reaction to a legitimate question — indeed, it was borderline bullying of a potential voter.
Given the constant gaffes that have plagued Biden’s campaign since the start, it is no surprise that his handlers are trying to spin this incident as best they can to minimize the damage. How that effort goes over with the average American voter remains to be seen, however.