Former vice president Joe Biden pushed directly back at his party's progressives, suggesting they "calm down a little bit."
Speaking Tuesday at a diner in Concord, N.H., the septuagenarian defended his record on the environment.
Recent Stories in Politics
"I've never been middle of the road on the environment," he said in response to a question from a CNN reporter.
Biden was reacting to comments from socialists Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.)
Speaking at a rally Monday, Ocasio-Cortez took a thinly-veiled shot at Biden.
"I'll be damned," she said, "if the same politicians who refused to act are going to try to come back today and say we need a middle of the road approach to save our lives."
Sanders piled on with a similar comment on Twitter. "There is no ‘middle ground' when it comes to climate policy," he wrote."
There is no "middle ground" when it comes to climate policy. If we don't commit to fully transforming our energy system away from fossil fuels, we will doom future generations. Fighting climate change must be our priority, whether fossil fuel billionaires like it or not.
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) May 10, 2019
The comments followed a Reuters report over the weekend that revealed the Biden campaign sought to "carv[e] out a middle ground approach" on climate change.
One Biden advisor told Reuters that "I respect where they (activist groups) are coming from," but stressed that a more moderate approach would be needed.
"What we learned from the Obama administration is unless we find middle ground on these issues, we risk not having any policies," she said.
Of the two self-described socialists, only Sanders correctly quoted the Biden campaign.
Speaking with reporters, Biden pushed back at Ocasio-Cortez's incorrect quote. He told them to tell her to get her facts right and learn the historical record.
"You never heard me say ‘middle of the road,'" he said. "Tell her to check the statement that I made and 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."
To @ArletteSaenz, @JoeBiden had this to say about @AOC criticism on climate: "I’ve never been middle of the road on the environment … Everyone should calm down a little bit. Nothing middle of the road."
— Jeff Zeleny (@jeffzeleny) May 14, 2019
Biden closed with a note for those upset to remain patient.
"So, it's a long campaign, and uh, everybody should just calm down," he said. "They should calm down a little bit and take a look at my record. There's nothing middle of the road about my record on the environment. Nothing."
Biden, the second-oldest Democratic candidate after Sanders, has been favorably described as middle of the road.
In January, Republican Mayor James Brainard (Carmel, Ind.) praised the former Vice President in similar language.
"He strikes a balance of practicality and hope," Brainard said. "He's a middle-of-the-road guy. That's what we need."
Biden has comfortably led most polls since jumping in to the Democratic primary. He hopes to defeat President Donald Trump in 2020.