Former Vice President Joe Biden accused South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg on Monday of stealing his healthcare plan.
Popularly known as Obamacare, the healthcare law was the signature domestic policy achievement of former Democratic President Barack Obama, whom Biden served as No. 2. When asked if that would change if the field was narrowed down to three people, Biden doubled down on the stance.
Like Biden, Buttigieg has said he would offer public health insurance to those who want it while also maintaining private health care plans - a proposal he dubbed "Medicare for all who want it". "I don't need an Obama endorsement".More news: 2010s Hottest Decade in History, UN Says as Emissions Rise Again
"He stole it", Biden told reporters on his campaign bus in Iowa. "And I've never been in a position seeking the nomination where I have had the money and the organization to be able to get open headquarters all over the state", he said.
Biden asserted that his time serving as vice president has helped him establish a voter base within the African American community and in some key states, including Pennsylvania, Colorado, Virginia and Florida.
The accusation comes as Buttigieg has risen to front-runner status in both Iowa and New Hampshire.
Biden contended that if he had supported a different plan "and then I came along with the exact same plan, what would you have done to me?"More news: High school cop shoots armed student at a Wisconsin high school
The former vice president predicted that if he wins the Iowa caucus, it would be "awful hard to stop me from winning the nomination".
Polls show U.S. Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are also in the running in Iowa. OK, come on, man, give me a break.
"Look at the polling everywhere".
"No, he doesn't have the enthusiasm and the moderate - moderate plan", he said. "Tell me. Tell me where this great enthusiasm is manifesting itself". "It's the Biden plan", he said.More news: Don't cheer Tiger at Presidents Cup, Scott urges fans
Biden, who still enjoys a lead among Democrats in national polls, has largely avoided attacking Buttigieg.