Thursday 22 August 2019

'Joker' Joe Biden battles to stay in race for the White House

Surge in support: Would-be candidate Pete Buttigieg. Photo: REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Surge in support: Would-be candidate Pete Buttigieg. Photo: REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

David Millward in New Hampshire

Joe Biden is fighting to keep his bid for the 2020 Democratic nomination on track as interest surges in Pete Buttigieg, the 37-year-old mayor of the rust-belt city of South Bend, Indiana.

Allegations of inappropriate behaviour towards women have dealt a serious blow to the 76-year-old former vice-president who, even though he has still formally to declare his candidacy, is seen as Donald Trump's likeliest opponent.

Mr Biden has apologised for his tactile approach, but his handling of the issue - including making a joke about the controversy - attracted further criticism. Michael Bennet, the Colorado senator who is also considering entering the race, condemned Mr Biden's flippant attitude on the 'State of the Union' TV show.

"I don't think anyone should make jokes about it," he said.

According to the latest poll by Morning Consult, which spoke to 5,000 Democrat voters, Mr Biden is still the most popular choice. However, the poll was taken before the allegations had gathered steam.

The same poll showed a surge of support for Mr Buttigieg, who is credited with reviving a city that had been in decline since the Studebaker car plant closed in the 1960s.

Mr Buttigieg was languishing in seventh place among Democratic hopefuls, but the poll showed an 11pc rise in his favourability rating over the previous month.

It is this momentum that has led to growing interest in his candidacy among leading commentators, such as Hugh Hewitt, a conservative radio host, who described Mr Buttigieg as a "rocket ship".

Mr Buttigieg has avoided commenting on the controversy, telling Fox News it was not his place to say whether the allegations should disqualify the former vice-president from running for the White House. "I do think it's important that he's addressing it." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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