Joe Biden is expected to use this week’s debate to argue Democrats should select a nominee who is able to offer “more than plans,” an adviser to the former vice president says, previewing a potential line of attack against Sen. Elizabeth Warren, whose campaign mantra is “I’ve got a plan for that.”
Biden and Warren are set to face off on the debate stage for the first time at the third Democratic presidential primary debate, a one night event featuring 10 candidates in Houston on Thursday.
“I expect you’ll see Biden echo an important point he made during last week’ climate forum: we need more than plans, we need a President who can deliver progress on the most pressing issues facing Americans – which Joe Biden has proven he can throughout his career,” a Biden adviser said.
Advisers to Biden have tried to downplay a head-to-head matchup with Warren over the past week, with the adviser arguing, “There will be 10 candidates on the debate stage, not 2. And regardless of who is or isn’t attacking Joe Biden, Biden is focused on running his race.”
Warren’s campaign declined to comment on Biden’s potential debate strategy.
A Warren aide told CNN, “Elizabeth will make the same case for her campaign as she’s done at 129 town halls in 27 states and Puerto Rico. She will identify what’s broken in America. She will show her plans on how to make real change. And she will talk about how she’s building a movement to make it happen.”
This week’s debate comes as recent national polls show Biden, Warren and Bernie Sanders leading the Democratic primary field. Biden, the Democratic front-runner who is often pegged as the more moderate of the presidential contenders, will find himself standing on the debate stage between Warren and Sanders – two candidates seen as battling it out for the progressive mantle.
But Biden’s team argues the former vice president’s record and proposals should not be dismissed as not progressive enough.
The Biden adviser said the campaign refuses to “accept that the bold, far-reaching change” proposed by Biden is “anything but progressive.”
“The more expensive a plan is doesn’t make it more progressive. Running for president is about making people’s lives better, and that only happens if the change proposed becomes reality,” the adviser said.
Biden is also expected to defend the record and initiatives of the Obama administration, some of which came under attack at the second presidential debate in Detroit in July.
“While other candidates on the debate stage may run away from the success of the Obama-Biden administration, VP Biden will defend the 8 years of extraordinary progress and lay out his plans to build on that success and move our country forward,” the adviser said.
The Biden camp also expects the former vice president to focus on presenting a contrast to Trump on foreign policy – including Iran and the redirection of military funds for the border wall – as well as on transparency.
Biden and Warren have yet to directly clash in the Democratic primary race – compared to the former vice president’s fights with Sen. Kamala Harris over school busing; Sen. Cory Booker on criminal justice; and Harris and Sanders on healthcare.
Shortly after Biden launched his presidential bid, Warren took aim at Biden over bankruptcy, saying, “I got in that fight because they just didn’t have anyone and Joe Biden is on the side of the credit card companies.” The Massachusetts senator has also attempted to counter Biden’s argument that he’s the best candidate to take on Trump, saying last month, “It’s not enough to be ‘not Trump.’”
Asked by CNN last month if he wants to present any contrasts with Warren at the upcoming debate, Biden said, “I’m just going to be me and she’ll be her and let people make their judgments. I have great respect for her.”
CNN’s MJ Lee contributed to this report.