- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 8, 2020

Sen. Bernard Sanders on Sunday ramped up attacks on Joseph R. Biden and accused the former vice president of taking too much credit for President Barack Obama’s accomplishments, including the 2009 automobile industry bailout.

Mr. Biden recently boasted about his role in the bailout as the two rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination prepare to face off in a major primary Tuesday in Michigan, the capital of the U.S. automotive industry.

“Now let’s go to Michigan, Bernie, and see if that’s true. I’m the guy that helped bail out the automobile industry. What did you do, old buddy? Come on,” Mr. Biden taunted on CNN last week.

Mr. Sanders said the former vice president exaggerated his importance as Mr. Obama’s sidekick when tough decisions were made, such as spending $80 billion to prop up Chrysler and General Motors Co. during the Great Recession.

“The auto bailout was done by the Obama administration, and it was a step forward. But I think sometimes Joe is taking a little bit of credit as vice president for initiatives that were led by President Obama and by many members of the Congress,” Mr. Sanders said on “Fox News Sunday.”

He also pummeled Mr. Biden, who has a long record as a U.S. senator, for routinely being on the wrong side of history. He specifically recalled Mr. Biden’s opposition to same-sex marriage and his support for the Iraq War and job-killing trade deals.

Mr. Biden’s eight years in the White House with the country’s first black president has been the foundation of his campaign, though Mr. Obama has refrained from endorsing a candidate in the Democratic race, which has now become a virtual two-man contest.

The Michigan primary will be a crucial test of support in the industrial Midwest. In 2016, Mr. Sanders scored an upset victory there over Hillary Clinton. He predicted he would do the same this year even though polls show Mr. Biden with a roughly 5-percentage-point lead.

Mr. Sanders said he wouldn’t drop out of the race if he loses in Michigan.

“Media asks you, ‘Is this state or that state life or death?’ I was asked that at Iowa. I was asked that in New Hampshire,” he said. “We won California, the largest state in this country. We are winning among Latino voters big time.”

Mr. Sanders said his overwhelming support among young voters signals that his far-left platform is the future of the Democratic Party and the country.

“They want changes. They’re concerned about climate change. They’re concerned about racism and sexism. So I think if you look at the general electorate, you look at the future of this country, I think you’ve got a lot of energy behind this,” he said.

He later added, “Just yesterday — didn’t get a lot of media attention for whatever reason — we had the rally in Grand Park in Chicago. We had 15,000 people out. So I’m feeling good about the momentum that we have. I think we’re going to do well on Tuesday, and I think we’re going to beat Biden.”

As he jabbed his rival, Mr. Sanders stressed that he and Mr. Biden were friends and each would support the other as the nominee to defeat their common target: President Trump.

Joe Biden is a decent guy,” Mr. Sanders said. “We both recognize that we have a president who is a pathological liar, and I say that without any joy in my heart, as somebody who’s running across the administration, as somebody who apparently who has never read the Constitution of the United States and thinks he’s above the law.”

Still, he took swipes at Mr. Biden for votes in the Senate, including the Iraq War and the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which barred the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages in the few states that allowed them at the time.

Mr. Biden has struggled to explain his vote for the Iraq War. He has said he came out against the war as soon as it started, though he voted in 2002 to grant President George W. Bush the power to attack Iraq. He also said the vote was a mistake because Mr. Bush used the war powers unwisely.

Mr. Sanders voted against granting Mr. Bush any war powers.

On same-sex marriage, Mr. Biden voted for DOMA but as vice president became the first administration figure to voice public support for same-sex marriage, forcing the president’s hand on the issue.

In another swipe at Mr. Biden, Mr. Sanders said his rival was on the wrong side when he supported the North American Free Trade Agreement and “most favored nation” trade status for China.

Those deals, which Mr. Sanders opposed, ran contrary to the interests of union workers, said the senator from Vermont.

“People have a right to know who is going to be there when the going gets tough,” Mr. Sanders told ABC’s “This Week.” “Voting for the Wall Street bailout — I voted against it, Joe voted for it.”

Mr. Biden did not make an appearance on any of the major Sunday talk shows. Instead, he took to Twitter to show he was campaigning over the weekend in Missouri, one of five states besides Michigan where Democrats will cast ballots Tuesday to choose the party’s presidential nominee. The four other states are Idaho, Mississippi, North Dakota and Washington.

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