Democratic presidential hopeful Beto O’Rourke on Thursday said former Vice President Joseph R. Biden represents a return to the past and that it’s not enough to simply turn back the clock to the end of the Obama administration.
“He is” a return to the past, the former Texas congressman said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
“And that cannot be who we are going forward,” he said. “We’ve got to be bigger. We’ve got to be bolder. We have to set a much higher mark and be relentless in pursuing that.”
Mr. O’Rourke said that as much of a “horror show” as President Trump has been, there were major problems before he took office.
“You cannot go back to the end of the Obama administration and think that that’s good enough,” the former Texas congressman said. “We cannot return to the past. We cannot simply be about defeating Donald Trump. We’ve got to bring everyone into this democracy to make sure that in the most ambitious, aspirational way possible, we confront the greatest challenges that we’ve ever faced.”
Mr. Biden has mentioned former President Barack Obama frequently on the campaign trail and has characterized himself as an “Obama-Biden Democrat.”
Asked if Mr. Biden should apologize for supporting the Iraq War, Mr. O’Rourke pointed out that the former vice president has shifted his positions on issues like taxpayer-funding for abortion and the threat that China poses to the United States.
“Look, you’ve got to ask yourself where Joe Biden is on issues that are most important to you. Did he support the war in Iraq that forever destabilized the Middle East?” he said. “I’m not exactly sure what he believes or what he should apologize for — I only know that this country should be able to do far better. We should be bold and unapologetic about what we want to pursue, and the fact that we want to bring everyone in to make sure that we achieve success.”
Though some of Mr. Biden’s rivals for the Democratic nomination have treaded carefully on attacking him since he entered the race, they have launched criticisms, both implicit and explicit, in recent weeks.
Multiple candidates, including Sens. Kamala D. Harris of California and Cory A. Booker of New Jersey, have criticized Mr. Biden for his role in supporting a 1994 crime bill that critics argue paved the way for mass incarcerations in the country, particularly of minorities.
Sen. Bernard Sanders of Vermont has criticized a “middle ground” approach on issues, an indirect reference to Mr. Biden’s reported approach on climate change.
And South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, 37, has made general calls for a generational change as part of his campaign.
“Democrats can no more turn the clock back to the 1990s than Republicans can return us to the 1950s, and we should not try,” Mr. Buttigieg said in a speech this week laying out his foreign policy vision.
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