- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Sen. Bernard Sanders of Vermont on Monday apologized for an op-ed from a surrogate saying that 2020 Democratic presidential rival Joseph R. Biden has a “big corruption problem.”

“It is absolutely not my view that Joe is corrupt in any way. And I’m sorry that that op-ed appeared,” Mr. Sanders told CBS News.

Joe Biden is a friend of mine. I’ve known him for many, many years. He’s a very decent guy,” Mr. Sanders said. “And Joe and I have strong disagreements on a number of issues, and we will argue those disagreements out.”

The op-ed, written by political activist Zephyr Teachout and published in the Guardian, says Mr. Biden has a “big corruption problem and it makes him a weak candidate.” It says campaign contributions have had a major influence on Mr. Biden’s approach to finance, health care and environmental issues.

An adviser to Mr. Sanders’ campaign promoted the piece in a Monday email blast.

Mr. Sanders said he doesn’t approve of his supporters aggressively going after his opponents online.

“No, I really don’t,” he said. “If anyone knows me, what I believe is we need a serious debate in this country on issues. We don’t need to demonize people who may disagree with us.”

“I appeal to my supporters: Please, engage in civil discourse,” he added. “And by the way, we’re not the only campaign that does it. Other people act that way as well. I would appeal to everybody: Have a debate on the issues. We can disagree with each other without being disagreeable, without being hateful. That is not what American politics should be about.”

Mr. Biden thanked Mr. Sanders for the apology.

“Thanks for acknowledging this, Bernie. These kinds of attacks have no place in this primary. Let’s all keep our focus on making Donald Trump a one-term president,” Mr. Biden said on Twitter late Monday.

Mr. Biden and Mr. Sanders are running first and second, respectively, in the latest Real Clear Politics average on Iowa with less than two weeks to go until the first-in-the-nation caucuses.

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