The Democratic primary race is beginning to look like a contest between former Vice President Joe Biden and Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, so the two men are drawing contrasts between themselves, comparing records, and taking jabs at each other.
Sanders' campaign has spent the better part of this week criticizing Biden over his position on Social Security, in what appears to be an attempt to appeal to senior voters, who remain supportive of the former vice president. Nearly 40 percent of them, polls suggest, support Biden. Sanders discussed the issue on Sunday with CBS News.
Asked why seniors support Biden, Sanders suggested that the former vice president enjoys the support because he is a "nice guy," and not necessarily because of his record.
"Look, you know why? I'll tell you why. Because Joe is a nice guy. Okay? He is a decent person.""He is a friend of mine. People like him. And we're not going to make personal attacks on Joe Biden, but I think the record shows that Joe's history in the Senate and my history in Congress are very different," the Vermont senator continued, before addressing Biden's accusations against his campaign.
During a campaign event on Saturday, facing criticism over his record on Social Security, Biden reassured a voter concerned about his stance on the issue that a video which suggests he advocated for cuts to the program has been "doctored." The video, Biden said, was being spread and amplified by members of Sanders' campaign.
The footage Biden appears to have an issue with suggests that he agreed with Republican Paul Ryan's plan to reform the tax code by cutting programs such as Social Security and Medicare. According to some fact-checkers, it has been edited to misrepresent Biden's statement.
However, the Biden-Ryan video is only one of many available online, and Biden's advocacy for Social Security cuts is a matter of public record. As a fact check by The Intercept established, Biden "has advocated for cutting Social Security for 40 years," so hours of video footage of him proposing the cuts exists.
In public statements, on the Senate floor and in media interviews, according to The Intercept's analysis, Biden has advocated for cutting the program. He has, in fact, been fixated on it since the era of Ronald Reagan.In his interview with CBS News, Sanders underlined that a single allegedly misleading video is not the issue, but Biden's record on Social Security is.
"It is Joe's position on Social Security over the years versus my position on Social Security over the years," the senator said, adding that he is "not saying anything about what Joe might do in the future."
On the campaign trail, Biden has stressed that he would not try to cut Social Security if elected president.