A former Iowa official said he's "shocked" that Joe Biden told him to "go vote for someone else" after the Democratic presidential candidate rebuffed a question about whether he supports oil pipeline construction.
Mr Biden poked and grabbed Ed Fallon, who served in Iowa's general assembly and leads an organisation aimed at tackling the climate crisis, after the candidate pressed him about his loyalty in the election.
In a video of the exchange, Mr Fallon asks the candidate: "I like you, and I'm going to support you if win the nomination because we have to get rid of [Donald Trump], but what are we going to do about climate change? ... We have to stop building and replacing pipelines."
Mr Biden then tells him to "go vote for someone else."
After Mr Fallon tells him he would support the former vice president in the general election, Mr Biden tells him "I'm running in the primary" and grabs him by his jacket lapels.
Mr Fallon has been trying to pin down Mr Biden's position on pipelines for nearly a year.
During the candidate's repeat visits to the state, Mr Fallon and his Bold Iowa organisation have pressed him on his positions on climate change, the Dakota Access Pipeline, and whether he supports removing or replacing older gas pipelines leaking methane, after giving apparently contradictory statements over his opposition to new construction.
"He and I had this conversation before and it's never been resolved", Mr Fallon tells The Independent. "It seemed like there's a disconnect."
When he approached the candidate at a small campaign event at Urban Dreams in Des Moines, Mr Fallon says he was expecting Mr Biden "to address the concerns I was raising about climate change."
Instead, he says, he was "surprised" that Mr Biden appeared to deflect his support, should Mr Biden be selected as the Democratic nominee in the general election, during which he ostensibly would want to earn Mr Fallon's vote.
"He just made it more difficult", Mr Fallon says.
Mr Biden has pushed back against several would-be voters throughout his campaign, including telling an immigration activist in South Carolina to "vote for Trump" and telling another man in Iowa — who the candidate also called a "damn liar" — that he's "too old" to vote for him.
On his website, Mr Fallon writes that his most recent exchange is "disturbing on a number of levels".
He said: "His propensity to violate personal space is a huge non-asset in politics, and his frequent gaffes are prime fodder for opponents and the media. ... Most important, Biden is simply wrong on climate change, and out-of-step with voters on so many issues."
Mr Fallon says he supports Mr Steyer for his track record of environmental advocacy and promise to declare a "climate emergency" on the first day of his administration, if elected.
On Twitter, Mr Steyer addressed Mr Biden, telling him: "This is no way to treat an Iowan. He said he'd vote for the Dem in the general b/c he knows how important it is to beat Trump. We need immediate action on climate. If you don't agree, happy to talk @ debate. But don't take it out on voters we need to win in Nov."
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