Debate #3: Biden survives Castro's age attack, beats top rivals

Friday, September 13, 2019
Michael F. Haverluck (

Dem debate 3Joe Biden was reportedly the big winner during the third Democratic presidential debate Thursday night. He not only warded off Julian Castro's vicious attack on his allegedly failing memory, but stood his ground during attacks from top rivals Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren over "Medicare for All."

Health care was the major topic of the night, and Castro specifically took aim at the former vice president over the issue, claiming that he – not Biden – championed former President Barack Obama's signature Obamacare program. He insisted his Medicare-for-all plan more closely resembles the Affordable Care Act than Biden's proposed plan, which proposes to not touch private insurance while providing a public option.

"I'm fulfilling the legacy of Barack Obama, and you're not," Castro told Biden.

Biden promptly shot back at Obama's former HUD secretary: "That'll be a surprise to him."

Having missed his target with his first attack, Castro took aim once again, this time at Biden's age and memory, both of which have been topics of discussion lately with his frequent gaffes and recalling events from his past that never happened.

"Castro also took a shot at Biden's memory, accusing him of contradicting himself about whether Americans would have to buy into a public health care option under his plan or if they would be automatically enrolled," Fox News reported.

The 44-year-old Texan essentially accused Biden of having short-term memory.

"I can't believe that you said two minutes ago that they had to buy in, and now you're saying they don't have to buy in," Castro contended. "You're forgetting that!"

Again, Biden was able to fend off Castro's bombardment.

"Biden defended himself by stating that his plan would automatically enroll those who could not afford insurance, but that others would be able to opt in," Fox News' Ronn Blitzer noted.

Shield down, sword out

Changing tactics, Biden went on the offensive against Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who he called a socialist who couldn't explain to his ultra-left supporters how he and his progressive allies would fund his government-run Medicare-for-All program.

After Sanders contested that American citizens spend more on health care than Canadians and others outside the U.S., Biden asserted that his plan was continuing Obama's health care legacy.

"This is America" Biden told Sanders. "I'm for Barack … Obamacare [should be] updated, not replaced."

Noticeably upset, Sanders then blasted Obamacare's failure.

"A fiery Sanders punched back, charging that Biden has to defend millions of Americans going bankrupt under the health care system Obama implemented," The Associated Press recounted.

One-two punch

Biden also blasted Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) over the exorbitant hidden costs Americans would have to pay in order to fund her Medicare-for-All plans. When he asked her whether taxes would rise for middle-class Americans to fund her socialized medicine plan, she insisted total costs would drop without specifically saying if middle-class families' taxes would rise.

"What we're talking about here is what's going to happen in families' pockets," Warren evasively replied.

Biden then demanded a straight-up answer. "This is about candor, honesty," he reminded Warren. "There will be a deductible – in your paycheck ... someone making 60 grand with three kids, they're going to end up paying $5,000 more."

Some observers thought Warren's responses didn't measure up to the expectations of those expecting her to grill Biden at the podium Thursday night.

"Though many were watching Warren – expecting her to deliver a knockout performance – the senator fell somewhat short of that expectation," Fox News's Douglass E. Schoen pointed out in his column. "While this will likely not impact Warren's standing in the presidential race at this early stage – which according to most polls is a close second behind Biden – she did not have the debate moment that many were anticipating."

In Schoen's eyes, Biden was in top form Thursday night.

"Aside from Biden's generally strong performance, he compellingly and convincingly delivered his core message of restoring, protecting and rebuilding the Obama-Biden record," the columnist contended. "On the other hand, the first 30 minutes of the debate during the health care discussion were arguably Biden's best moments on the campaign trail to date."

Schoen added: "Though the former vice president's performance was not perfect, he exhibited a much-needed display of strength and preparedness."

And a new tactic of Biden's appears to be one of aligning himself with Obama.

"The senator says she's for Bernie," Biden told the crowd, referring to Warren. "Well, I'm for Barack."

Beto shooting blanks?

More volatile language hit the stage Thursday night when former Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-Texas) took his radical gun control agenda to a new extreme.

In prior weeks, the Texas lawmaker had blasted the pro-gun rights Trump administration and basically blamed the president – in an expletive-ridden tirade – for the mass shooting in his native El Paso, Texas, that left 22 dead. O'Rourke returned to attack form and unapologetically defended his call for the ban of automatic rifles similar to those used in the fatal rampage last month.

When asked during the debate whether he would essentially violate Americans' Second Amendment rights by forcing assault-style weapon buybacks, O'Rourke asserted he would.

"I am – if it's a weapon that was designed to kill people on a battlefield," the 46-year old Texas Democrat maintained, according to Newsmax. "So many other people were shot by that AR-15 in Odessa, there weren't enough ambulances to get to them in time.

He again asserted he wouldn't think twice about effectively disarming Americans and stripping them of their constitutional right to bear arms.

"Hell yes – we're going to take away your AR-15, your AK-47," O'Rourke insisted. "We're not going to allow it to be used against a fellow American anymore."


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