Joe Biden’s Iraq War Vote Raises Questions About Electability, Suggests Democrat Michael Bennet

Presidential candidate and Sen. Michael Bennet speaks during The Iowa Democratic Party Liberty & Justice Celebration.
Joshua Lott / Getty Images

As President Donald Trump escalates tensions with Iran, foreign policy is coming into focus in the Democratic primary race. The Democratic frontrunner, former Vice President Joe Biden, voted in favor of the authorization for use of military force against Iraq and staunchly supported then-President George W. Bush’s effort.

According to Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado, who is also running in the Democratic primary, Biden’s Iraq war vote raises questions about electability. In an interview with NBC’s Chuck Todd, Bennet suggested that Biden’s baggage would be a major liability in a race against President Donald Trump, according to The Hill.

“I think it is much harder to unite the Democratic party if you voted in favor of the Iraq War, and I think it’s much harder to take on Donald Trump, who takes every single position,” Bennet said, prompting Todd to ask whether he believes Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont is more electable than Biden, given that he vocally opposed the Iraq war and voted against it.

“I think that many people would say that was not his finest hour,” Bennet said of Biden’s vote, noting, however, that he believes neither of the leading Democratic candidates necessarily has what it takes to defeat Trump in 2020.

“From my vantage point, there’s a real question in my mind about whether any of the leading candidates can take on Donald Trump, which is why I’ve stayed in this race.”

According to Bennet, voters remain undecided about who the Democratic nominee should be because they “know how much is at stake,” and realize that the nominee needs to be someone capable of beating Trump. As president, Bennet added, he would seek approval from Congress before making important foreign policy decisions.

Biden’s Iraq war vote is currently in focus not only because Trump is escalating tensions with Iran, but because Biden has been inviting criticism by apparently misrepresenting his own record. On the campaign trail, the former vice president has claimed that he opposed the Iraq war “from the very moment” it began in 2003, which is false, according to fact-checkers.

In fact, according to a CNN fact-check, Biden “repeatedly spoke in favor of the war both before and after it began,” praising the Bush administration for invading the country in an effort to take down Saddam Hussein.

Sanders has used Biden’s apparent misstatements as an opening to differentiate himself from the rest of the field, with his campaign describing the former vice president’s claims about the Iraq war as “appalling.”

Much like Bennet, Sanders has suggested that Biden’s record on issues such as war, trade, and welfare makes him a weak general election candidate. Sanders has surged in the key early states of Iowa and New Hampshire, but Biden leads the field in national polls.