Biden Launches Brutal Ad Mocking Mayor Pete’s Experience; Buttigieg Campaign Punches Back


The campaign of former Vice President Joe Biden dropped a brutal ad on former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg today, seeking to draw a sharp contrast between the candidates’ respective levels of experience.

The ad comes at a time when Biden’s status as the putative frontrunner has been faltering. Biden had a lackluster fourth place showing in the Iowa caucuses, while Buttigieg outperformed expectations, narrowly beating Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. The other candidates have been ramping up their criticisms of Buttigieg as too inexperienced to be President, such as Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar‘s comment at Friday’s New Hampshire debate that sending a “newcomer” to the White House was a bad idea.

Biden’s ad, posted above, swipes at Buttigieg by comparing Biden’s record as vice president and Buttigieg’s as mayor of South Bend, Indiana, a town with a population of just over 100,000.

In a series of backhanded compliments, the narrator praises Biden’s record and then offers praise for Buttigieg, but in a way that seeks to paint the former mayor at a much more junior level.

When President Obama called on him, Joe Biden helped lead the passage of the Affordable Care Act — which gave health care to 20 million people.

And when park-goers called on Pete Buttigieg, he installed decorative lights under bridges, giving citizens of South Bend colorfully illuminated rivers.

The ad continues, comparing Biden’s involvement in negotiating the Iran Deal to Buttigieg easing licensing requirements for pet chip scanners, Biden’s work with the auto industry bailouts and other Recovery Act economic bills and Buttigieg installing decorative bricks on city sidewalks, and so on.

Multiple polls have shown Buttigieg performing stronger than many expected when he entered the race, but struggling to earn support from black voters. The Biden campaign is clearly aware of this and includes near the end of the ad news headlines about Buttigieg firing South Bend’s first African-American Chief of Police, followed by firing the city’s African-American Fire Chief as well.

“We’re electing a President,” says the narrator to close out the ad. “What you’ve done matters.”

Reaction to the ad on social media overwhelmingly viewed the ad as a brutal, effective message.

Chris Meagher, Buttigieg’s National Press Secretary, responded to the ad in a statement provided to the press, criticizing the Biden campaign for belittling small town lives as a “Washington politician’s punchline”:

At this moment, the American people are crying out for something completely different from this classic Washington style of politics. While Washington politics trivializes what goes on in communities like South Bend, South Bend residents who now have better jobs, rising income, and new life in their city don’t think their lives are a Washington politician’s punchline. Pete’s on the ground experience as mayor, turning around a Midwestern industrial city, is exactly why he is running for president. The Vice President’s decision to run this ad speaks more to where he currently stands in this race than it does about Pete’s perspective as a mayor and veteran.

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Sarah Rumpf joined Mediaite in 2020 and is a Contributing Editor focusing on politics, law, and the media. A native Floridian, Sarah attended the University of Florida, graduating with a double major in Political Science and German, and earned her Juris Doctor, cum laude, from the UF College of Law. Sarah's writing has been featured at National Review, The Daily Beast, Reason, Law & Crime, Independent Journal Review, Texas Monthly, The Capitolist, Breitbart Texas, Townhall, RedState, The Orlando Sentinel, and the Austin-American Statesman, and her political commentary has led to appearances on the BBC, MSNBC, NewsNation, Fox 35 Orlando, Fox 7 Austin, The Young Turks, The Dean Obeidallah Show, and other television, radio, and podcast programs across the globe.