Dems race: For Pete’s sake, how bad can it get for Biden?
Former Veep has been slated for his dodgy behaviour towards women, while ‘Mayor Pete’ continues to rise
Joe Biden is fighting to keep his bid for the 2020 Democratic nomination on track as interest surges in Pete Buttigieg, the 37-year-old mayor of the rustbelt city of South Bend, Indiana.
Allegations of inappropriate behaviour towards women have dealt a serious blow to the 76-year-old former vice-president who, even though he has still to formally declare his candidacy, is seen as Donald Trump’s likeliest opponent.Biden has apologised for his tactile approach, but his handling of the issue – including making a joke about the controversy – attracted further criticism.Michael Bennet, the Colorado senator who is also considering entering the race, condemned Biden’s flippant attitude on State of the Union, a Sunday morning political show.“I don’t think anyone should make jokes about it,” he said.According to the latest poll by Morning Consult, which spoke to 5,000 Democrat voters, Biden is still the most popular choice.However, the poll was taken before the allegations had gathered steam.The same poll showed a surge of support for Buttigieg, who is credited with reviving a city that had been in decline since the closure of the Studebaker car plant in the 1960s.Buttigieg was languishing in seventh place among Democratic hopefuls, but the poll showed an 11% rise in his favourability rating over the previous month.
It is this momentum that has led to growing interest in his candidacy among leading commentators, such as Hugh Hewitt, a conservative radio host, who described Buttigieg as a “rocket ship”.
Buttigieg has avoided commenting on the Biden controversy, telling Fox News it was not his place to say whether the allegations should disqualify the former vice-president from running for the White House.
“I do think it’s important that he’s addressing it, and I’ll leave the rest to him,” he said.
There was further evidence of the “Mayor Pete’s” surge on Friday when organisers of a campaign event in Manchester, New Hampshire, had to find a larger venue.
Significantly, several attendees who had backed Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders in 2016 told The Daily Telegraph they intended to back Buttigieg in next year’s primary.
Appearing on Meet the Press, a Sunday morning political show, Buttigieg sought to cement his position as a politician from America’s heartland.
“I would stack my experience against anyone. I know it’s not traditional, I have not been marinating in Washington for some time,” he said.
Meanwhile, Tim Ryan, a congressman from Ohio, became the 17th Democrat to enter the race.
– © Telegraph Media Group Limited (2019)