Sanders Calls Biden's Record 'So Weak,' Says VP Has 'Baggage,' Lacks 'Energy & Excitement' Needed to Defeat Trump

After Senator Bernie Sanders surpassed 2020 Democratic frontrunner Vice President Joe Biden by more than $10 million in campaign funds raised in the last quarter of 2019, the Vermont progressive swiftly took aim at his biggest rival.

In an interview with the Washington Post, Sanders, emboldened by his recently successful fundraising efforts, directly accused Biden of not possessing the "energy and excitement needed to defeat Donald Trump" in the upcoming presidential election.

"It's just a lot of baggage that Joe takes into a campaign, which isn't going to create energy and excitement," the progressive candidate said. "He brings into this campaign a record which is so weak that it just cannot create the kind of excitement and energy that is going to be needed to defeat Donald Trump."

Sanders goes on to point out that Trump will likely seize on Biden's economic record to discredit him. "It doesn't take much imagination to understand that Trump will be saying, 'You see this guy? He voted for NAFTA,'" he said.

The Senator also called out Biden for cosying up to political elites. "People are tired of the traditional types of campaigns in which candidates like Joe are running to wealthy people's homes and raising large sums of money," Sanders said.

Newsweek reached out to Biden's campaign for comment but did not receive a response in time for publication.

Many of the 14 remaining presidential candidates vying for the Democratic nomination began their first days of 2020 by releasing their campaign fundraising figures for the fourth quarter of 2019. Trump's reelection campaign outraised his top opponents by a considerable margin, however some came closer than expected to the president's total.

Sanders, the top progressive candidate in most recent national polls, topped his Democratic colleagues with $34.5 million raised in the fourth quarter of 2019—between October 1 and December 31. Former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg unexpectedly followed in second place after having raised $24.7 million, while Biden came in third with $22.7 million.

Although Sanders' biggest progressive rival, Senator Elizabeth Warren, has yet to announce her total figure, it will almost certainly be considerably less than his.

After suffering from a heart attack earlier this year, Sanders, 78, appears to have recalibrated his approach to reach voters across America. The candidate, known for his frequent calls for a revolution, has recently been focused on tapping minority voters and the exorbitant cost of health care.

His recent successes, especially in fundraising, prompted CNN host Jake Tapper to question whether Biden should still be considered the Democratic frontrunner. "Is it even right to call Joe Biden a frontrunner if he's being eclipsed in fundraising by Buttigieg and by Bernie Sanders?" Tapper asked his panel on Thursday's The Lead. "Bernie Sanders has a huge fundraising donor base and also the state-by-state polls show that it's really fluid and voters haven't coalesced around a candidate yet."

Biden, Sanders
Former Vice President Joe Biden (L) listens as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) speaks during the Democratic Presidential Debate at Tyler Perry Studios November 20, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. Alex Wong/Getty