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Castro Defends His Exchange With Biden

It was 'not a personal attack,' he says, though others disagree
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 13, 2019 12:34 PM CDT
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From left, Joe Biden, Julian Castro, and Andrew Yang talk Thursday after the Democratic presidential primary debate hosted by ABC at Texas Southern University in Houston.   (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

(Newser) – The Democratic candidates for president took each other on during a debate in Houston Thursday night, clashing on everything from war to health care, but what the Hill calls a "fiesty exchange" on the latter went down between two contenders in particular. Julian Castro and Joe Biden were going toe-to-toe on how enrollment would work in each of their health care proposals, when the ex-HUD secretary suddenly pounced on the former VP when he thought Biden changed his answer on how to opt in to his own plan. "The difference between what I support and what you support ... is that you require them to opt in," Castro said, eliciting a "they do not have to buy in" from Biden. Castro: "You just said that two minutes ago," he retorted to the 76-year-old candidate. "Are you forgetting already what you said just two minutes ago?"

At one point, Pete Buttigieg interjected, noting the back-and-forth "reminds everybody of what they cannot stand about Washington," per the New Republic. Castro's ire redirected toward Buttigieg: "Yeah, that's called the Democratic primary election, Pete." The squabble brought varying responses, with Amy Klobuchar in the camp that felt Castro's response to Biden was an uncalled-for slight against his age and memory. She told CNN afterward, "I thought that was so personal and so unnecessary." Cory Booker, meanwhile, said Castro had "legitimate concerns" and a right to call out his competitor, noting, "There are definitely moments where you listen to Joe Biden and you just wonder." On Friday, Castro told CNN's New Day he regretted nothing. "That was not a personal attack," he said. "This was about a disagreement over what [Biden] said regarding health care policy." (Read more Democratic debate stories.)

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