Biden fires back after Ocasio-Cortez slams ‘middle-of-the-road’ climate change plan

May 15, 2019

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez probably wasn’t expecting Joe Biden to fight back when she called his climate change plan a “dealbreaker.”

But the presumptive Democratic frontrunner defended his record on the environment Tuesday, telling critics to “calm down” after a report emerged that his environmental policy is “middle of the road.”

Biden hits back

Ocasio-Cortez criticized Biden last week after Reuters reported that Biden was planning a more measured environmental plan than her widely criticized Green New Deal, which Ocasio-Cortez introduced earlier this year. In a tweet, Ocasio-Cortez called Biden’s plan a “dealbreaker.”

“There is no ‘middle ground’ w/ climate denial & delay,” she wrote. “We’re not going to solve the climate crisis w/ this lack of leadership. Our kids’ lives are at stake.”

Biden confidently defended his record Tuesday, saying he doesn’t think Ocasio-Cortez was talking about him when she again criticized politicians who “refuse to act” on climate change. Biden asked his critics to “calm down” and wait to see his plan before jumping to conclusions.

“You never heard me say ‘middle of the road.’ I’ve never been middle-of-the-road on the environment. Tell her…to look at my record. She’ll find that nobody has been more consistent about taking on the environment and a green revolution than I have,” Biden said. “I don’t think she was talking about me.”

He went on: “Look, all they’ve got to do is go back and read what I’ve done already and you’ll be hearing very shortly the totality of what I plan on doing… It’s a long campaign and they should calm down a little bit.”

Ocasio-Cortez took a veiled shot at Biden at a Green New Deal rally Monday at Howard University.

“I will be damned if the same politicians who refused to act then are going to try and come back today and say we need a middle-of-the-road approach to save our lives,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “That is too much for me.”

Primary rift opens over progressive credentials

Ocasio-Cortez has not been shy about her disapproval of Biden, and while she has not endorsed any Democratic candidate for president, she has taken care to rule out the former VP, whom she considers uninspiring and a remnant of the party’s past.

“I can understand why people would be excited by that, this idea that we can go back to the good old days with Obama, with Obama’s vice president,” she told the podcast Skulduggery last month. “There’s an emotional element to that, but I don’t want to go back. I want to go forward.”

As the unofficial leader of a new generation of progressives, Ocasio-Cortez is something of a Democratic kingmaker, and progressive candidates in the field have sought her approval. But it’s a different story for Biden, who has largely spent the first weeks of his campaign apologizing for his insufficiently woke policy record.

Biden defended his record as a liberal Tuesday, saying, “I don’t yield anybody on my liberal credentials. Whether it’s on women’s issues, on LGBT issues, on speech, I have a record.”

Biden has not endorsed the Green New Deal, something that Sen. Bernie Sanders (VT), Biden’s chief primary rival, is seeking to exploit. Sanders has aligned himself with Ocasio-Cortez while attacking Biden’s record on everything from climate change to the Iraq War. He even appeared alongside AOC at the climate change event Monday, where he urged: “The United States must lead the world with a global approach that emphasizes the Green New Deal.”

The Green New Deal has been widely endorsed by 2020 Democrats, including Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), both progressives favored by Ocasio-Cortez. The freshman lawmaker said on “Skullduggery” that she’s “very supportive of Bernie” and that Warren’s ideas are “remarkable.” Like Ocasio-Cortez, both have targeted Biden over his record, calling it too moderate and aligned with big corporations.

But Biden doesn’t seem terribly concerned that he lacks AOC’s approval, telling reporters in New Hampshire that “the idea that somehow the Democratic Party is gone so far to the left that is not recognized by the most Democrats who consider themselves liberal is not factually what’s happening.”

Biden may have a point. Ocasio-Cortez certainly exerts an outsized influence on her party, but Biden is the current frontrunner of the Democratic primary. In the real world outside of virtue-signaling, woke Twitter, Biden is faring much better in the polls than the far-left progressives more closely aligned with Ocasio-Cortez.

Though the liberal upstart certainly has more influence than most politicians her age, Biden made it clear that he’s not intimidated by a fledgling legislator who boasts little more than a large Twitter following.


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Matthew Boose

Matthew Boose is a staff writer for Conservative Institute. He has a Bachelor's degree from Stony Brook University and has contributed to The Daily Caller and The Stony Brook Press.