Julián Castro Came for Joe Biden In the Third Democratic Debate

Punches were thrown

Julian Castro

Photo: Wikimedia/Gage Skidmore

Punches were thrown. Fighting ensued. Blood was left on the stage. Yes, I’m using metaphors, but last night’s Democratic presidential debate in Houston, Texas was more like a boxing match in Vegas. The third debate between Dems took place at the University of Houston and got heated mostly between Democratic presidential nominees Joe Biden and Julián Castro. Some thought Castro hit below the belt. Others thought Biden needed to be checked.

Who was right, though? Let’s get into it.

Castro made several digs at Biden’s expense including criticizing his memory and challenging him on his solidarity with former President Barack Obama but only when it was convenient.


The first jab came during the discussion of “Medicare for All.” While all Dems are for improving on Obama’s Affordable Care Act, some want a single-payer health care system, others want to ensure every single person is covered regardless of their employment.

The argument began over Biden’s use of words, which appeared as if he was flipping on his own plan. “If you lose the job from your … employer, you automatically can buy into this,” Biden said. “No pre-existing condition can stop you from buying in. You get covered, period.”

Castro said, “But the difference between what I support and what you support, Vice President Biden, is that you require them to opt-in and I would not require them to opt-in. They would automatically be enrolled. They wouldn’t have a buy-in. That’s a big difference because Barack Obama’s vision was not to leave 10 million people uncovered. He wanted every single person in this country covered. My plan would do that. Your plan would not.”

Biden fired back and said, “They do not have to buy-in. They do not have to buy in.” Castro retorted, “You just said that. You just said that two minutes ago. You just two minutes ago that they would have to buy in.”

And two went at it again. Biden said, “Do not have to buy in if you can’t afford it.” Castro again said, “You said they would have to buy in.”

CNN fact-checked Biden’s healthcare plan and noted that he would cover 97 percent of the population, however, we have “327 million people in our country which would leave out 10 million Americans without coverage.”

“Barack Obama’s vision was not to leave 10 million people uncovered,” Castro said last night during the third Democratic debate. “He wanted every single person in this country covered. My plan would do that. Your plan would not.”

The issue here is that Castro used Biden’s misuse of words against him, but was it fair? Some argue that Castro’s attack was uncalled for, and it will hurt him in the long run. Others say, given the importance of not only the debate but this specific upcoming election in 2020, we need to get specific about what the presidential candidate’s intentions are.

Biden fired at Sen. Elizabeth Waren and Sen. Bernie Sanders on the healthcare topic as well. Castro just happened to go in a little harder, and he didn’t stop there.

The rest of the crew didn’t appreciate this tense exchange which made Mayor Pete Buttigieg say, “This is why presidential debates are becoming unwatchable.” But Castro had a punch for him too. He said, “Yeah, that’s called the Democratic primary election, Pete. That’s called an election.”

Castro later snagged another punch at Biden when discussing Obama’s legacy, including the unpleasantries such as deporting millions of people. After all, former President Obama was referred to as “deporter-in-chief.”

Castro said, “But my problem with Vice President Biden — and Cory [Booker] pointed this out last time — is every time something good about Barack Obama comes up, he says, oh, I was there, I was there, I was there, that’s me, too, and then every time somebody questions part of the administration that we were both part of, he says, well, that was the president. I mean, he wants to take credit for Obama’s work, but not have to answer to any questions. I mean…”

Biden, of course, didn’t like his response and verbally disagreed with him a couple of times. Biden then said, “I did not say I don’t — I stand with Barack Obama all eight years, good, bad and indifferent. That’s where I stand. I did not say I did not stand with him.”

Castro throws punches when they deserve to be thrown. He did it toward Beto O’Rourke in the first Democratic debate, and he did it this time with Biden because he deserves to be called out. After all, the road to 2020 election isn’t so much about who’s “nice” or “mean” during Democratic debates, but rather the bottom line is: who is actually going to face and beat Donald Trump?

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