Julian Castro, Joe Biden campaign off Houston Democratic debate feud
Published 2:42 PM EDT Sep 13, 2019
WASHINGTON – Joe Biden and Julián Castro — both former Obama administration officials — took their tense feud from the debate stage on Thursday to supporters’ inboxes on Friday.
Castro sent an email to supporters with the subject line “Joe Biden,” less than 24 hours after the former Housing and Urban Development Secretary repeatedly criticized Biden during the third Democratic primary debate in Houston.
“I spent every second on last night’s debate stage fighting for you – and now I’m being viciously attacked for it,” Castro’s campaign email begins.
Castro is being criticized for a now viral exchange he had with Biden where he claimed the former vice president said Americans would have to “buy in” for health care coverage under Biden’s proposal.
“You just said two minutes ago that they would have to buy in,” Castro said after Biden denied it. “You said they would have to buy in. Are you forgetting what you said two minutes ago?”
Castro was criticized by some candidates for the exchange, but received support from Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., who said Castro had “every right” to call into question whether Biden is the best candidate for president.
However, Castro seemingly mischaracterized Biden’s plan on health care.
“Anyone who can’t afford it gets automatically enrolled in the Medicare-type option we have,” Biden said earlier in the night. Several minutes later, he said that under his health care plan, if Americans lose their insurance, “you automatically can buy into this.”
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Castro also slammed Biden for his repeated references to former President Barack Obama throughout the primary campaign.
In his campaign email, Castro said he had a “critical choice” to make while on the debate stage Thursday night.
“I could either play it safe and give Vice President Biden a free pass like everyone else,” the email continued. “Or I could speak up, challenge the conversation, and demand answers for you and your family.”
“I’m not in this race to play it safe,” he continued.
Hours later, Biden sent out his own email to supporters with the subject line: “Julián Castro got it wrong.”
“Last night’s debate was full of great moments,” the email said. “But one moment that left us stunned was when Secretary Castro took a cheap shot at Joe. Not only was it a low blow, but Secretary Castro got the facts wrong!”
However, Castro has not been the only candidate to take on Biden.
During the July debate, Booker attempted to take Biden to task, hitting him on his work with segregationist Democrats early in his Senate career. Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., also had a viral moment during the June debate where she criticized Biden’s stance of federally mandated busing.
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In fact, Castro also criticized Biden during July’s debate. That time it was for the Obama administration’s stance on immigration, specifically on the high number of deportations under Obama. Castro didn’t take heat for July’s debate moment like he did for Thursday night’s attack.
Castro has repeatedly defended his criticisms of Biden during the latest debate.
“I wouldn’t do it differently. That was not a personal attack,” Castro said Friday morning on CNN. “This was about a disagreement over what the vice president said regarding health care policy.”