A clearly not-firing-on-all-pistons former Vice President Joe Biden challenged an elderly voter in Iowa at a campaign event to a push-up contest on Thursday and claimed that “no one has ever said” his son Hunter Biden used his father’s position to gain a lucrative spot on the board of the Ukrainian energy firm Burisma.
But that wasn’t the worst of it.
Biden — still a frontrunner for the 2020 Democratic nomination right now — also called the 83-year-old voter “a damn liar.”
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An unidentified man challenged Biden at a town hall in New Hampton, Iowa.
He stood up and said, “I’m not a Republican. I’ve got two problems with you. One is you’re damn near as old as I am. You’re too old. I’m 83, and I know damn well I don’t have the mental faculties I did [before].”
“But on the other hand,” the man continued, “you sent your son over there to get a job and work for a gas company where he had no experience … In order to get access for the president … you’re selling access to the president just like he was,” the voter went on.
Biden, his eyes locked on the man, shot back oddly and immediately as he walked toward him, “You’re a damn liar, man. That’s not true. And no one has ever said that. Look, the reason I’m running is because I’ve been around a long time and I know more than most people and I can get things done,” Biden said.
“And you want to check my shape?” Biden continued. “Let’s do push-ups together, man. Let’s run. Let’s do whatever you wanna do.”
Where to begin on this?
Calling a voter “a damn liar” in a state you need to win in order to gain the nomination you supposedly desire is the kind of move that keeps campaign staffs up at night.
Biden could have deftly deflected the man’s comments — or ignored them altogether. He could have thanked him for the comments and moved on. Period.
And challenging the man’s comments in the way that he did only drew more attention to the question.
Hence this article — and other stories on the subject.
Also, claiming that “no one has ever said that” about his son, Hunter Biden, is an assertion that is baldly false, as the charge has been talked about for weeks in every American news outlet online, in print, and on television.
But Joe — say it ain’t so. He didn’t stop there.
He followed that demonstrably ludicrous claim with challenging the voter — to a contest of strength? What?
It’s reminiscent, in a strange way, of what Biden said back in March 2018 during a speech about President Donald Trump: “I’d take him behind the gym and beat the hell out of him,” he said, if the two men were still in high school. He also said, “I’m a pretty damn good athlete.”
Biden also said this sort of thing much earlier about beating up Trump.
But was Thursday’s scene in Iowa a “Saturday Night Live” sketch from back when “SNL” was still funny?
Was it a 1950s-era sandals-and-swords Greek warrior drama where Hercules battles a hydra in feats of might to save a comely Macedonian princess?
At that point in the campaign event, Biden repeated the outrageous claim, “No one has said my son has done anything wrong.”
The voter ultimately said, “Well, I’m not voting for you.”
“Well, I knew you weren’t,” Biden snapped back. “You’re too old to vote for me.”
Biden’s staff must be tearing their hair out as their boss lurches from one bizarre scene to another.
(Also: Imagine if President Donald Trump had said that?)
This new Biden incident comes on the heels of his nostalgic remembrance — in a recently resurfaced clip — of an odd scene from decades past, of his “hairy legs that … that … that … turn blonde in the sun and the kids used to come up and reach into the pool and rub my leg down.”
Oh, and then there was this recent public nibbling of his wife’s finger as she gave a speech:
YOU CAN'T MAKE THIS UP.
Joe Biden just NIBBLED on his wife's finger at a campaign stop in Iowa. pic.twitter.com/PcCqTMPJez
— Steve Guest (@SteveGuest) November 30, 2019
Let’s put aside the question of age for a moment.
Any candidate — much less a potential presidential nominee — with such a lack of message discipline would get eaten alive by Trump in a debate.
Throw in the weird rants, the non-sequitur responses, and the physical challenges to fellow senior citizens — and you have the makings of a political debacle of the highest order.
Competing candidates must know that, and guaranteed the Democratic National Committee knows it, too.
Who else knows it? Former Dem nominee Hillary Clinton?
The big question now is: If Biden remains the frontrunner, what are they all going to do about it?
This article has been updated.