Biden tells NH Democrats that Buttigieg 'not a Barack Obama'

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Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden clenches his fist as he speaks at a campaign event, Saturday, Feb. 8, 2020, in Manchester, N.H. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola).

MANCHESTER, N.H. – Scrambling to salvage his presidential campaign, Joe Biden escalated his criticism of Pete Buttigieg on Saturday, mocking Buttigieg's experience as a small city mayor and cutting down the comparisons Buttigieg has drawn to the last Democratic president, declaring: “This guy's not a Barack Obama.”

Biden's biting attacks on Buttigieg's relatively thin resume mark a new, more aggressive attempt to slow the momentum of the youngest candidate in the Democratic field. The 38-year-old emerged from Iowa in an effective tie with Sen. Bernie Sanders, but faces questions about whether his eight years as mayor of South Bend, Indiana — a city of about 100,000 people — prepared him for the presidency.

“I do not believe we’re a party at risk if I’m the nominee,” Biden told voters in Manchester. “I do believe we’re a party at risk if we nominate someone who has never held a higher office than the mayor of South Bend, Indiana.”

Buttigieg also faced criticism from Sanders, who said he had billionaires “by the dozens” contributing to his campaign.

“If you’re serious about political change in America, change is not going to be coming from somebody who gets a lot of money from the CEOs of the pharmaceutical industry,” Sanders said.

Both Sanders and Buttigieg appear in strong position in New Hampshire ahead of Tuesday's primary, while Biden has conceded he expects to take a “hit” in the state.

Biden's campaign is urgently trying to recalibrate, shaking up its senior leadership and signaling that the former vice president won't go down without a fight. On Saturday morning, the campaign posted an online video attacking Buttigieg that was one of the harshest intraparty broadsides of the Democratic primary.

The 90-second video compares Biden's record as vice president with Buttigieg’s service as mayor. While Biden helped President Barack Obama pass sweeping health care legislation and orchestrate a bailout of the auto industry, the ad says, Buttigieg was installing decorative lights on bridges and repairing sidewalks.