Biden Banks on Obama, Defends Former President’s Record on Immigration and Healthcare

Biden Banks on Obama, Defends Former President’s Record on Immigration and Healthcare

Former vice president Joe Biden got very heated Thursday afternoon while defending Barack Obama’s legacy to a group of reporters in Detroit.

Biden’s defenses of the president he served for eight years in the face of attacks on Obama’s legacy from the current field of Democratic contenders was one of the more notable subplots of Wednesday night’s debate. With the top candidates all running on policies more progressive than what Obama was able to enact during his term, reporters wanted to know if Biden thinks the party has moved farther to the left than the former vice president might be comfortable with.

This was particularly true on immigration, one of the Obama administration’s most despised policy failures for the left. Which makes it awkward when Biden was asked what he would do differently on the vexing issue:

“By the time the president’s term ended, he was able to begin to focus on ways to not just keeping the car from going over the cliff and us going into depression, he was able to begin to focus, and he focused on immigration. And what he did was serious. He changed the dialogue, he changed the whole question, he changed what was going on.”

This is a muddled, rambling, non-specific answer that will do nothing to answer the question of immigration reform and how to handle the flow of migrants at the southern border.

Asked later about whether he felt he had really highlighted the differences between his healthcare plan and the more progressive plans pitched by other candidates, Biden responded by defending Obamacare as more progressive than it is given credit for being:

“There’s nothing anybody has done that comes close to what Barack Obama did. This guy did an incredible thing. In addition to that, he covered a hundred million people who had pre-existing conditions. He allowed kids to stay on their parents’ policies until they’re 26 years old. He covered 20 million more people.”

Obama is very popular within the party, even as a good percentage of it feels his policies fell short of what was needed to combat some of the country’s ills. Threading that needle of moving beyond the former president while also embracing him is a tough act. Biden is not being subtle about how he plans to navigate through it.

Watch both videos above, via CNN.

Gary Legum

Gary Legum

Gary Legum has written about politics and culture for Independent Journal Review, Salon, The Daily Beast, Wonkette, AlterNet and McSweeney's, among others. He currently lives in his native state of Virginia.