Bernie Sanders unleashed a wave of new ads Wednesday morning attacking Joe Biden after a surprising string of Super Tuesday victories resurrected the former vice president’s presidential campaign and frontrunner status.
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In one of the 30-second ads, Sanders revived his earlier criticism of Biden over his remarks in 1995 advocating freezing federal spending for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
Although Biden has called for expanding Social Security and paying for it by imposing taxes on the wealthy, that’s a marked shift from his time in the Senate, when he and other moderate Democrats flirted with the possibility of either cutting benefits or increasing the retirement age.
“When I argued that we should freeze federal spending, I meant Social Security as well,” Biden said on the Senate floor in 1995. “I meant Medicare and Medicaid. I meant veterans’ benefits. I meant every single solitary thing in the government. And I not only tried it once, I tried it twice, I tried it a third time, and I tried it a fourth time.”
Biden has maintained that Sanders’ camp took the comments out of context.
“We’ve got some bad news for them,” Sanders says in the ad. “We’re not going to cut Social Security. We’re going to expand benefits.”
Another 30-second ad released by his campaign on Wednesday features former President Barack Obama praising the Vermont senator — a tactic also used by Biden and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren. The ad features a voiceover of Obama saying that Sanders has “the virtue of saying exactly what he believes, great authenticity, great passion and is fearless.”
Biden’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but in a statement to Politico, a spokesperson characterized the Obama ad as disingenuous, pointing to Sanders’ past questioning of Obama’s progressive record and reportedly weighing a primary challenge against the incumbent during the 2012 presidential election.
“As recent history has proven, no quantity of ads can rewrite history — and there’s no substitute for genuinely having the back of the best president of our lifetimes,” Biden spokesperson Andrew Bates told Politico.
The ads will run in Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio and Washington, which hold pivotal nominating contests on March 10 and March 17.
According to an aggregate of polls by RealClearPolitics, Biden has a narrow lead over Sanders. Biden won nine states on Super Tuesday, securing him a total of 467 delegates. Sanders trails at 392 delegates, according to the Associated Press’s delegate tracker. Candidates need 1,991 delegates in order to clinch the nomination during the party’s July convention in Milwaukee.