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‘Neither is he’: Buttigieg hits back at Biden’s dig that former mayor isn’t Obama

Pete Buttigieg on Sunday had a response to former Vice President Joe Biden’s recent comment the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, is not Barack Obama: “Neither is he.”

“Well, he’s right, I’m not. And neither is he. Neither is any of us running for president,” Buttigieg told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union” after being asked about the comment from Biden the day before, adding that “this isn’t 2008, it’s 2020 and we are in a new moment calling for a different kind of leadership.”

Biden, looking to turn around his flagging campaign on the heels of a fourth-place finish in Iowa and a lackluster showing at the last Democratic debate, criticized Buttigieg on the campaign trail Saturday. In response, the former mayor’s supporters responded by calling Biden dismissive of those in small cities and towns. Biden then dismissed comparisons between his attacks on Buttigieg and Hillary Clinton’s criticism of then-Sen. Barack Obama’s limited experience when the two were primary rivals in 2008.

“Oh come on, man,” Biden told reporters in Manchester, New Hampshire, on Saturday. “This guy’s not a Barack Obama.”

And Biden again rejected the notion that Buttigieg is similar to Obama during a Sunday interview with ABC, saying the former President was a “different story.”

“Barack Obama came from a large state, he was a United States senator and he had run before. He had been involved in international — He had a clear vision of what he thought the world should look like and so on,” he said. “So, but — it’s a very different situation.”

The former vice president first mocked Buttigieg’s experience as a small-city mayor in a new digital ad his campaign is using on YouTube and Facebook in New Hampshire ahead of Tuesday’s primary.

The ad, titled “Pete’s Record” and reported first by CNN, makes a series of cheeky comparisons between the two candidates — contrasting Biden’s time shepherding major legislation to passage and negotiating international agreements with the smaller challenges facing the mayor of a city of 100,000.

It’s the most direct, negative ad aired to date by any leading Democratic presidential contender against a primary rival. The ad reflects a new sense of urgency in Biden’s campaign: The former vice president and his aides have said they expect to lose New Hampshire, too — but his campaign is looking to regain its footing as the race moves to Nevada and South Carolina later this month.

During his CNN interview, Buttigieg also congratulated Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders for his performance in last week’s Iowa caucuses.

“I’m happy to congratulate Sen. Sanders on a fantastic night just as we had a terrific night,” he said.

With 100% precincts reporting, Buttigieg holds a slim lead over Sanders in the caucuses. The former mayor leads the senator by one-tenth of one percentage point in the all-important state delegate equivalent count.

The Buttigieg and Sanders campaigns each claimed victory in that contest during a town hall in New Hampshire.

This story has been updated with additional developments Sunday.

CNN