Former vice president Joe Biden claimed on Tuesday while campaigning in Iowa that South Bend, Ind. mayor Pete Buttigieg “stole” his health care plan.
Biden has proposed a health care policy similar to Obamacare that would preserve the private market while expanding the pool of Americans eligible for coverage under Medicare. Responding to a reporter who suggested Biden had framed the health care issue for Buttigieg, Biden responded “he stole it!”
The Buttigieg campaign commented that the mayor had discussed his health care policy since January, before Biden announced his candidacy.
Biden is in the midst of a difficult campaign for the Iowa state primaries, where he is currently polling in fourth place among democratic primary candidates, according to a RealClearPolitics polling average. He is leading national primary polls but is behind in Iowa and New Hampshire, the two first states on the primary circuit.
The former vice president also told reporters that Buttigieg “doesn’t have the enthusiasm of the moderates, c’mon guys…the moderate plan. It’s the Biden plan.”
Buttigieg is leading the polls in Iowa with 24 percent of the prospective vote. The mayor is competing with Biden for moderate voters, and has described his health care policy proposal as “Medicare for all who want it.”
Senators Bernie Sanders (D., Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.), who are competing for the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, have released “Medicare for All” proposals promising massive government funding for universal health care coverage.
Former president Obama reportedly criticized Biden in November for failing to connect with voters, especially in Iowa. Biden asserted on Tuesday that he did not require an endorsement from his former boss.
“Everybody knows how close we are. I don’t need an Obama endorsement,” Biden said.