Democratic presidential contender Pete Buttigieg hit front-runners Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders on Thursday ahead of the Iowa Caucuses, marking a shift in tone for the former South Bend, Ind., mayor’s campaign.
“I hear Vice President Biden saying that this is no time to take a risk on someone new,” Buttigieg told voters in Decorah, Iowa. “But history has shown us that the biggest risk we could take with a very important election coming up is to look to the same Washington playbook and recycle the same arguments and expect that to work against a president like Donald Trump who is new in kind.”
“Then I hear Senator Sanders calling for a kind of politics that says you’ve got to go all the way here and nothing else counts,” he continued. “And it’s coming at the very moment when we actually have a historic majority, not just aligned around what it is we’re against, but agreeing on what it is we’re for.”
Buttigieg’s remarks about Sanders and Biden are some of the most direct comments he’s made about his rivals on the campaign trail.
He appeared to preview his comments on Sunday, but did not call out Biden and Sanders by name.
“I’ve heard some folks saying this is no time to take a risk,” Buttigieg said at a Fox News town hall. “And I agree. But I think the biggest risk that we could take right now would be to try to go up against this president with the same old playbook that we’ve been relying on that helps explain how we got here in the first place. I think it’s time for something completely different.”
Buttigieg, 38, also appeared on Thursday to tout his status as one of the younger candidates in the race.
“Every time my party has actually won the White House, it’s been with a candidate who is focused on the future — one who hadn’t been in Washington very long, if at all, and was opening the door to a new generation of leadership,” Buttigieg said. “That has always been true when we’ve won and it’s worth thinking about with so much depending on whether we win.”
By contrast, Sanders, 78, and Biden, 77, have faced questions about their age and fitness to hold office. Biden, in particular, has used his age and experience to make his case on the trail.
Recent polls show Biden and Sanders neck-and-neck ahead of the Iowa caucuses on Monday.
A CBS News poll released on Sunday showed Sanders at 26 percent support in the state, while Biden was close behind at 25 percent support.
Buttigieg also polled tightly with the front-runners, coming in at 22 percent support.