Joseph Biden’s presidential campaign came out swinging Saturday with a whopper of a TV ad taking a back-handed compliment approach to criticizing Pete Buttigieg.
The 60-second ad, which the Biden campaign unveiled in New Hampshire days before the primary on Tuesday, at first blush commends both Biden and Buttigieg for their records in public service.
But the ad goes on to say while Biden’s experience as vice president consisted of negotiating the Iran nuclear deal, Obamacare and the 2009 stimulus package, Buttigieg focused on smaller projects, such as providing decorative lighting for a park bridge in South Bend and ensuring neighborhood pets have homes.
“Both Vice President Biden and former Mayor Pete Buttigieg have taken on tough fights,” the voice-over in the ad says. “Under a threat of a nuclear Iran, Joe Biden helped to negotiate the Iran deal, and under threat of disappearing pets, Buttigieg negotiate lighter licensing regulations on pet chip scanners.”
As Buttigieg — who as an openly gay presidential candidate pulled off a historic win this week in Iowa — struggles to win support from black voters, the ad also highlights issues the candidate has had with black people in his city, including firing a black police chief when who was investigating racism in and subsequently firing a black fire chief.
For the incident with the black police chief incident, the ad depicts an image of Buttigieg from a New York Times article in which Buttigieg’s youth is very apparent. Buttigieg is 38, while Biden is 77.
Chris Meagher, a spokesperson for the Buttigieg campaign, said in a statement criticizing Biden the ad represents a “classic Washington style of politics” from which Americans want to move away.
“While Washington politics trivializes what goes on in communities like South Bend, South Bend residents who now have better jobs, rising income and new life in their city don’t think their lives are a Washington politician’s punchline,” Meagher said. “Pete’s on the ground experience as mayor, turning around a Midwestern industrial city, is exactly why he is running for president. The vice president’s decision to run this ad speaks more to where he currently stands in this race than it does about Pete’s perspective as a mayor and veteran.”
Biden green lights the ad after the former vice president finished in an embarrassing fourth place in the Iowa caucuses compared to Buttigieg’s win in the Hawkeye State. Polls also shown he’s likely to underperform in New Hampshire.
“I took a hit in Iowa, and I’ll probably take it here,” Biden admitted during the Democratic presidential debate Friday night.
A NBC/Marist poll of New Hampshire conducted after the Iowa caucuses reveals Bernie Sanders is supported by 25 percent of likely primary voters, followed by Buttigieg with 21 percent, Elizabeth Warren with 14 percent, Biden with 13 percent and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) at 8 percent.
Annise Parker, a former mayor of Houston and CEO of the LGBTQ Victory Fund, said in a statement the Biden ad is “petty and demeaning, especially given Biden himself said he avoided becoming a mayor because the job is so difficult.”
“As a former mayor myself, I find it insulting that he would belittle the important role mayors play in the everyday lives of their residents,” Parker said. “Few jobs are more demanding – you take on enormous responsibilities and must constantly produce, because you will be held accountable. There is no hiding or scapegoating or blaming party politics like we see so much in Washington.”
The Victory Fund, which supports qualified LGBTQ candidates running for political office, has endorsed Buttigieg for president.
“Biden’s team must be reading some terrible poll numbers for them to release such a desperate ad against a fellow Democrat,” Parker added. “It’s time they refocus their fire at Donald Trump.”
A Biden spokesperson responded to the criticism over the ad with tweets from feminist and Biden campaign adviser Symone Sanders as well as mayors who support Biden’s candidacy.
Let’s be really clear here, Joe Biden started life as an elected as a county councilman. He knows the power of local government. So he knows what mayors CAN do. The question here is what HAVE you done and are you ready to be commander in chief on day one? Joe Biden is.