As the two men, along with Elizabeth Warren, argued about their various plans for reforming America’s healthcare system, the former vice president incorrectly referred to Mr Sanders.
He quickly corrected himself, saying: “My friend from Vermont.”
Viewers seized on the moment on social media, pointing out this was far from the first time Mr Biden had fluffed his lines. He also appeared to confuse Medicare for All, which is supported by Mr Sanders and Mr Warren, with his own plan.
Mr Biden, 76, said Mr Sanders, 78, was being less than candid about “how much it’s going to cost the taxpayers” to shift the nation to single-payer health insurance, particularly union members who made concessions to obtain better health insurance under the current system.
Mr Biden said: “For a socialist, you’ve got a lot more confidence in corporate America than I do.”
When Mr Sanders pushed back, invoking cancer treatment, Mr Biden replied that “I know a lot about cancer — it’s personal to me”. Mr Biden’s son, Beau, died of brain cancer in 2015.
Mr Sanders said citizens of the US spent much more on health care than Canadians or people in other countries. Mr Biden interrupted: “This is America.”
Mr Sanders punched back, charging that Mr Biden had to defend millions of Americans going bankrupt under the health care system Mr Obama implemented.
Pete Buttigieg interjected: “This is why presidential debates are becoming unwatchable. This reminds everybody of what they can not stand about Washington — scoring points against each other, poking at each other and telling each other that you’re, my plan.”
Additional reporting by agencies
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