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Biden Walks Back Criticism That Sanders Is ‘Not a Registered Democrat’

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, former Vice President Joe Biden, and Sen. Bernie Sanders at the Democratic primary debate at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, January 14, 2020. (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden on Friday walked back remarks he made questioning fellow 2020 candidate Bernie Sanders’s loyalty to the Democratic Party.

“I’m a Democrat,” Biden told reporters a day earlier at a campaign stop in Pella, Iowa, responding to a question about the biggest difference between him and his rival. “He says he’s not. He’s not a registered Democrat to the best of my knowledge.”

On Friday, the former vice president claimed his comments were taken out of context.

“The context of the question was different. They were asking me about a bunch of things about what Bernie was saying,” Biden argued during an interview with ABC, saying the question was about “who’s best prepared on Day One to try to reunite this party and the country as well as stand on the world stage and reassert our role in the world. That was the issue. That was the context of what we were talking about.”

“Look, Bernie is a Democrat. He calls himself a Democratic socialist. We have a different view on a whole lot of things. He’s a decent guy,” the vice president said, adding that, “He should be running.”

Biden also said he differs from Sanders in that he has calculated the cost of his health care plan and knows how he will pay for it, while Sanders has not nailed down those details.

“Everything I’ve suggested to you, that I want to do, I’ve figured how to pay for it,” Biden said. “He’s acknowledged he doesn’t even know what ‘Medicare for All’ is going to cost, and how he’s going to do it. How do you get something done that way?”

Sanders has run as an independent in Vermont since he was elected to the House 28 years ago but caucuses with Democrats and last year signed a loyalty pledge to the Democratic Party stating, “I am a member of the Democratic Party.”

Biden said Friday that he would support the eventual Democratic 2020 nominee if Sanders or another candidate beats him in the primary.

Sanders is currently neck-and-neck with Biden nationally just days before Monday’s Iowa caucuses, according to a NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.

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