Biden on Campaign Trail

December/06/2019 8:53AM
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CBS News version of the Biden exchange with a farmer in Iowa.

Unedited version of exchange:

NEW HAMPTON, Iowa — Joe Biden lashed out at an Iowa town hall Thursday after a man suggested the former vice president helped his son get a sweetheart deal in Ukraine and was “selling access” like President Donald Trump does.

The fiery exchange with the man, who only identified himself as a non-Republican Iowa farmer, ended with Biden challenging him to a contest of push-ups, running or an IQ test before he yelled at him.

“Get your words straight, Jack!” Biden yelled at one point in a hushed room.

Biden has largely avoided talking about his son Hunter Biden’s work for the Ukrainian gas company Burisma — which dovetailed with the vice president’s portfolio in the country — after Trump repeatedly tried to pressure Ukraine into investigating the arrangement. Democrats are moving toward impeaching Trump for what they call an abuse of his power.

But on Thursday in this small rural Iowa town, Biden couldn’t avoid the topic when the 83-year-old man said he had two problems with the 77-year-old Biden: that he’s “too old” and the Ukrainian issue.

“We all know Trump has been messing around in Ukraine,” the man said before pivoting to Biden.

“You on the other hand sent your son over there to get a job and work for a gas company and [who] had no experience in natural gas,” he said. “You’re selling access to the president just like he is.”

“You’re a damn liar, man. That’s not true. And no one has ever said that,” Biden interjected, walking up to him menacingly.

As the two talked over each other, a staffer tried to take the man’s microphone. But Biden waved him away and let the man keep the mic.

“Let him go. Let him go,” Biden said. He said that “the reason I’m running is because I’ve been around a long time and I know more than most people know and I can get things done. And that’s why I’m running.”

Returning to the issue of his age and fitness, Biden then laid down the challenge: “Let’s do push-ups together here, man. Let’s run. Let’s do whatever you want to do. Let’s take an IQ test.”

The man was speechless.

“I didn’t say you were doing anything wrong,” the man replied.

“You said I set up my son to work on an oil company,” Biden shot back. “Isn’t that what you said? Get your words straight, Jack!

The man said he heard it on MSNBC, at which point Biden yelled again.

“You don’t hear that on MSNBC! You did not hear that at all,” Biden said. “Look, I’m not going to get into an argument with you, man.”

At one point, Biden appeared to call the man “fat” by mistake. (After numerous media outlets reported the remark, Biden’s campaign claimed he said “fact.”) That’s when the man got in a dig.

“You don’t have any more backbone than Trump does,” he said.

The crowd booed him.

“Any other questions?” Biden said, looking to others.

“Well, I’m not voting for you,” the man said.

“Well, I knew you weren’t,” Biden said. “You’re too old to vote for me.”

The crowd cheered. The man sat down and Biden moved on.

After the tense back-and-forth, Biden told reporters that he decided to “shut this down” because the man was part of Trump’s “game.” However, the man’s unfounded claims about Biden getting his son the job or selling access to the president has never been made by Trump.

“When he’s really in trouble, what’s he do?” Biden said of Trump. “He tries to bring someone else in to say they’re the problem.”

Biden acknowledged that he was “frustrated” by the questions about Hunter Biden but noted his son would say, ‘Dad, just keep your cool. Just don’t let it get to you.’ And I’m just not going to let myself respond to the kinds of assertions that Trump is making because it’s just playing his game.”

But, a reporter noted, Biden did play into Trump’s hands by losing his temper.

“I didn’t lose my temper. You want to see my temper, keep going,” Biden responded. “I didn’t lose my temper. What I wanted to do was shut this down.”

As Biden ended his gaggle with reporters, one asked if it was fair to question his son’s business dealings. Biden didn’t answer and kept walking away.

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