When Joe Biden turned up in Iowa over the weekend on a tour bus with the words “No Malarkey” splashed across the side, he was sending a message to caucusgoers and his Democratic rivals: No more Mr. Nice Joe.
On Monday the gloves came off, with Biden taking swipes at Pete Buttigieg, his main competition for the moderate vote in Iowa and the beneficiary of a recent surge in support, and Elizabeth Warren, who has dropped in polling but remains strong in the state.
According to Bloomberg News, the former VP invited reporters into the no malarkey zone for an unfiltered question-and-answer session that included Biden accusing Buttigieg of copying his health-care plan, which is centered on creating a public option for anyone who wants it. “He stole it,” Biden said. He also accused reporters of going easy on the South Bend mayor. Biden said that if he had put out a health-care plan that so closely resembled an opponent’s, the press would have “torn my ears off.” He added: “I’d be a plagiarizing no good, old man who did bum-bum-bum.” Biden, of course, has been accused of plagiarism before.
Biden also said Buttigieg “doesn’t have the enthusiasm and the moderates.” But if Biden’s right about that, it’s hard to imagine why the front-runner would be publicly bashing the 37-year-old Hoosier. Buttigieg has positioned himself as an alternative to Biden for voters who see Warren and Bernie Sanders as too far left, and despite Biden’s protests, moderates in Iowa seem to be buying it.
Biden also hit Warren for a lack of “enthusiasm” in Iowa, Bloomberg News reports:
“You don’t see that with Warren. Stop kidding a kidder. OK, come on, man, give me a break,” Biden said of the Massachusetts senator, who’s drawing large crowds, though she’s fallen from her highs in state and national polls. “Look at the polling everywhere. OK. Tell me. Tell me where this great enthusiasm is manifesting itself.”
Clearly Biden’s not just done with malarkey. He’s got no time for flimflam, poppycock, or balderdash either.