Former Vice President Joe Biden explicitly distanced himself from his party's left flank Friday speaking to reporters in Washington, D.C.
Biden initially showed confusion between his own self-descriptions. When a reporter asked about him saying he's the "most progressive" candidate, Biden said, "No, I said liberal. I didn't say progressive."
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However, Biden had said just weeks ago he has the "most progressive record of anybody running." He seemed to accept being corrected on that quote and went on to make a point about how his "liberal" record on gay marriage and other issues is no longer considered "progressive" enough because he’s not a socialist.
"I'm not sure when everybody else came out and said they're for gay marriage. I'm not sure when everybody came out and talked about a lot of the things I've talked about, but my point is the definition of a progressive now seems to be changing. That is, are you a socialist? That's a real progressive," he said.
He said he believes in the traditional liberal positions on race, women, the LGBT community, and civil liberties.
"I'll stack my record on those things against anybody who has ever run, who is running now, or who will run," he said.
A reporter asked if he's saying the party has moved too far left and Biden stopped short of making that specific charge. He went on to tell reporters that they do not realize how few Democrats around the country are actually on the far left, seeming to take a shot at the media’s interest in democratic socialists like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.).
"You guys, if you look at all the polling data and look at all the actual results, the party has not moved to way—I don't want to characterize it, whatever characterization you just made. The fact of the matter is the vast majority of the members of the Democratic Party are still basically liberal to moderate Democrats in the traditional sense," he said.
Many of Biden’s potential 2020 opponents in the party, such as Sen. Kamala Harris (Calif.) and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (Texas), appear to be moving to the left as a strategy in the primary, while analysts have speculated Biden might be losing touch with the party.
For example, Harris has distanced herself from her tough record on criminal justice, embraced "Medicare for all," and co-sponsored the Green New Deal. O’Rourke also backs the Green New Deal, and has called for abolishing the Electoral College and packing the Supreme Court with more justices to counter the originalists appointed by President Donald Trump.
Biden finished by telling reporters that he wants to welcome leftists into the party and "have a debate," but he's an "Obama-Biden Democrat."