The final Democratic presidential debate before the pivotal Feb. 3 Iowa caucuses quickly erupted Tuesday night, as Bernie Sanders directly challenged former Vice President Joe Biden’s initial support for the Iraq war, which he called “the worst foreign policy blunder in the modern history of this country.”
“Joe and I listened to what Dick Cheney and George Bush and [Donald] Rumsfeld had to say,” Sanders said. “I thought they were lying. I didn’t believe them for a moment. I took to the floor. I did everything I could to prevent that war. Joe saw it differently.”
Biden acknowledged that his 2002 vote to authorize the war was a “mistake” but emphasized that former President Obama still felt that he had the foreign policy credentials to serve as vice president.
“I think my record overall, on every other thing we’ve done, I’m prepared to compare it to anybody on the stage,” Biden said.
— jordan (@JordanUhl) January 15, 2020
After the exchange, Sanders’ team tweeted out a video from summer 2003 showing Biden’s previous support for the Iraq War. (“Some in my own party have said that it was a mistake to go in to Iraq in the first place and believe that it’s not worth the cost,” Biden said in the video. “But the cost of not acting against Saddam I think would have been much greater.”)
Former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who served in the war in Afghanistan, added: “The next president is going to be confronted with national security challenges different in scope and kind than any we have seen before. … For me, those lessons of the past are personal.”
Buttigieg and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar later said they would ensure that Iran never obtains a nuclear weapon, but emphasized that joint action among allies would be necessary.
The party’s top six contenders were squaring off amid a pending Senate impeachment trial and white-hot tensions between Elizabeth Warren and Sanders.
The war in Iraq turned out to be the worst foreign policy blunder our country has ever made.
I voted against that war. I did everything I could to prevent that war.
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) January 15, 2020
Early on, Warren …