Democratic candidate and former vice president Joe Biden got into a feisty exchange with a voter at a town hall in Iowa following his endorsement by John Kerry on Thursday, calling an attendee a “damn liar” and challenging him to a push-up contest.
“We all know Trump has been messing around in Ukraine,” the voter said to Biden, adding, “You on the other hand sent your son over there to get a job and work for a gas company and [who] had no experience in natural gas. You’re selling access to the president just like he is.”
Biden snapped back as he walked toward the voter, “You’re a damn liar, man. That’s not true. And no one has ever said that. No one has proved that.”
“I see it on the TV,” the voter responded.
Biden then responded with criticism that got a bit personal. “You’ve seen it on the TV,” Biden said, “Well I know you do. By the way that’s why you’re — I’m not sedentary, I don’t, I get up and —”
At that moment, it appeared organizers were moving to take the voter’s microphone from him, but Biden told them to let him keep it, saying, “No, no, let him go.”
Biden then tried to shift to why he is running. “The reason I’m running is because I’ve been around a long time and I know more than most people know and I can get things done. And that’s why I’m running,” he said.
But he quickly returned to talk about health and fitness, saying, “You wanna check my shape on it, let’s do push-ups together here, man. Let’s run. Let’s do whatever you want to do. Let’s take an IQ test.”
Returning to the defense of his son, Biden said, “No one has said my son has done anything wrong.”
The voter interjected, “I didn’t say you were doing anything wrong.”
Biden retorted, “You said I set up my son to work on an oil company. Isn’t that what you said? Get your words straight, Jack!”
The voter responded that he “heard it on MSNBC.” The two went back and forth for a bit, then Biden responded with a remark that sounded to some like he was calling the man “fat.”
He sounded as if he said, “Look, fat — look, here’s the deal,” although Biden campaign spokesperson Symone D. Sanders claimed on Twitter that Biden said, “Look, facts.”
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
The remark spurred a retort from the voter, who said, “You don’t have any more backbone than Trump does,” which caused the crowd to boo.
“Any other questions?” Biden asked the crowd.
“Well, I’m not voting for you,” the voter replied.
“Well, I knew you weren’t,” Biden said. “You’re too old to vote for me.” This remark prompted cheers from the crowd, and the voter took his seat.
The unfortunate thing for the Biden campaign’s case that he said “facts” and not “fat” is that Biden was making insinuations about the man’s weight even before the alleged “fat” remark, saying “I’m not sedentary” and challenging the voter to do push-ups with him.
And Biden’s remark challenging the voter to an IQ test is one he’s made before, as NPR noted — not to mention it’s a favored line of President Donald Trump. During his 1988 presidential campaign, Biden had a testy exchange with a reporter who asked where he ranked in his law school. “I think I have a much higher IQ than you, I suspect. I went to law school on a full academic scholarship, the only one in my class… I’d be delighted to sit down and compare my IQ to yours.”
After Thursday’s event, Biden denied that he lost his temper during the exchange, telling reporters, “I didn’t lose my temper. What I wanted to do was shut this down.”