Joe Biden came out swinging on the campaign trail this week, calling out a hostile questioner as a “damn liar” and rolling out a campaign ad meant to hit Donald Trump where it hurts him most — his ego.
After enduring criticism about his measured response to Republican charges that he was implicated in a corrupt scheme to promote his son Hunter’s business interests in Ukraine, Biden confronted a voter in Iowa who parroted that claim.
“You’re a damn liar, man,” Biden snapped at an attendee at a rally in New Hampton who accused him of landing his son a seat on the board of the energy company, Burisma Holdings, to profit from his position in the Obama administration. “That’s not true and no one has ever said that.”
Hunter Biden through the years
Hunter Biden through the years
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 12: World Food Program USA Board Chairman Hunter Biden speaks on stage at the World Food Program USA's Annual McGovern-Dole Leadership Award Ceremony at Organization of American States on April 12, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Teresa Kroeger/Getty Images for World Food Program USA)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 12: (L-R) U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, Hon. Dan Glickman, and Hunter Biden attend the World Food Program USA's Annual McGovern-Dole Leadership Award Ceremony at Organization of American States on April 12, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Teresa Kroeger/Getty Images for World Food Program USA)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 12: World Food Program USA Board Chairman Hunter Biden (L) and U.S. Vice President Joe Biden attend the World Food Program USA's Annual McGovern-Dole Leadership Award Ceremony at Organization of American States on April 12, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Teresa Kroeger/Getty Images for World Food Program USA)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 12: World Food Program USA Board Chairman Hunter Biden and Kathleen Biden arrive at the World Food Program USA's Annual McGovern-Dole Leadership Award Ceremony at Organization of American States on April 12, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Paul Morigi/Getty Images for World Food Program USA)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 12: WFP USA Board Chair Hunter Biden speaks during the World Food Program USA's 2016 McGovern-Dole Leadership Award Ceremony at the Organization of American States on April 12, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Kris Connor/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 28: Hunter Biden attends the T&C Philanthropy Summit with screening of "Generosity Of Eye" at Lincoln Center with Town & Country on May 28, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for Town & Country)
US Vice President Joe Biden (C) buys an ice-cream at a shop as he tours a Hutong alley with his granddaughter Finnegan Biden (R) and son Hunter Biden (L) in Beijing on December 5, 2013. Biden said on December 5 China's air zone had caused "significant apprehension" and Beijing needed to reduce Asia-Pacific tensions to protect its growing stake in regional peace and stability. AFP PHOTO / POOL / Andy Wong (Photo credit should read ANDY WONG/AFP/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - DECEMBER 04: U.S. Vice President Joe Biden waves as he walks out of Air Force Two with his granddaughter Finnegan Biden (C) and son Hunter Biden (R) at the airport December 4, 2013 in Beijing, China. Biden is on the first leg of his week-long visit to Asia. (Photo by Ng Han Guan-Pool/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 01: Second Lady Dr. Jill Biden and World Food Program USA Board Chair Hunter Biden taking the Live Below the Line Challenge, eating and drinking on $1.50 a day to raise awareness of global hunger and World Food Programme school feeding efforts around the world, at World Food Program USA on May 1, 2013 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Paul Morigi/WireImage)
President Barack Obama, left, Vice President Joe Biden, center, and Hunter Biden share a laugh during the first half of the NCAA basketball game between Georgetown and Duke at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C., Saturday January 30, 2010. Georgetown defeated Duke, 89-77. (Photo by Chuck Myers/MCT/MCT via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON - OCTOBER 29: Hunter Biden (l) and actor Woody Harrelson pose for a photo at the after party following the 2nd Annual IMPACT Film Festival's screening of "The Messenger" at Posh on October 29, 2009 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Paul Morigi/WireImage)
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden (2R) arrives at Arlington National Cemetery with his wife Dr. Jill Biden (R), his son Hunter (L) and his daughter-in-law Kathleen for the internment services for U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy in Arlington, Virginia, August 29, 2009. Kennedy died late Tuesday after a battle with cancer. AFP PHOTO/POOL/Jim BOURG (Photo credit should read JIM BOURG/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, D.C. - JANUARY 20: Vice-President Joe Biden arrives with his family, wife Jill, sons Hunter and Beau at the reviewing stand to watch the Inaugural Parade from in front of The White House January 20, 2009 in Washington, DC. Obama was sworn in as the 44th President of the United States, becoming the first African-American to be elected to the President in the US. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 19: Hunter Biden and guest attend the Artists And Athletes Alliance red carpet event at Inaugural Honors ServiceNation, held at Cafe Milano in Georgetown January 19, 2009 Washington, DC. (Photo by Logan Mock-Bunting/Getty Images)
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Biden, who has kept his lead in polls of the Democratic presidential field since he entered the race in April, nevertheless has struggled with how to respond to Trump’s attacks. Republicans in Congress have called for Biden’s son, and even Biden himself, to be called as witnesses in the impeachment inquiry into President Trump, which is focused on White House efforts to coerce Ukraine to investigate the former vice president.
In early October, Biden told an audience that he didn’t want to be “sucked into the trap of the stuff that Trump was laying.” On Thursday, however, he tried to confront the accusations about his son’s former position on Burisma’s board while simultaneously making an affirmative case for his candidacy.
“Look, the reason I’m running is I’ve been around a long time and I know more than most people know and I can get things done,” Biden told the man who had brought up his son. “That’s why I’m running. And you want to check my shape on, let’s do pushups together, let’s run, let’s do whatever you what to do. Let’s take an IQ test. No. 2: No one has said my son has done anything wrong and I did not on any occasion, and no one has ever said it—”
Joe Biden calls a New Hampton Iowan at a town hall a “damn liar” for saying he sent his son, Hunter, to Ukraine to work for Burisma, and then challenges him to a push-up contest. pic.twitter.com/jVzNND15eJ
“I didn’t say you were doing anything wrong,” the voter interrupted.
“You said I set up my son to work on an oil company. Isn’t that what you said? Get your words straight, Jack.”
“That’s what I hear on MSNBC,” the man replied.
“You don’t hear that on MSNBC,” Biden fired back.
On Wednesday, Biden’s campaign showed it was capable of the kind of rapid response that will be necessary to beat Trump in 2020, cutting an ad that utilized footage from just hours earlier of European heads of state laughing about the president’s behavior at the NATO summit in London.
Trump abruptly canceled a planned news conference and departed the summit after the video of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, French President Emmanuel Macron, Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Britain’s Princess Anne gossiping about Trump went viral.
Before leaving London, Trump lashed out at Trudeau as “two-faced,” and later portrayed the summit as a success.
The Biden campaign ad portrayed the summit as an example of Trump diminishing America’s “standing in the world.”
The world is laughing at President Trump. They see him for what he really is: dangerously incompetent and incapable of world leadership.
“The world sees Trump for what he is — insincere, ill-informed, corrupt, dangerously incompetent and incapable, in my view, of world leadership,” Biden says during the spot. “And if we give Donald Trump four more years we’ll have a great deal of difficulty of ever being able to recover America’s standing in the world, and our capacity to bring nations together.”
Notably, the ad steers clear of the topic of impeachment. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that she was asking her colleagues to draw up articles of impeachment against Trump over his pursuit of a Ukrainian investigation into Biden.
“The facts are uncontested,” Pelosi said. “The president abused his power for his own personal political benefit at the expense of our national security by withholding military aid and a crucial Oval Office meeting in exchange for an announcement of an investigation into his political rival.”