2020 presidential candidate Julián Castro said his criticism of Joe Biden and his health care policy during Thursday’s Democratic debate was not personal and denied that he was attacking the former vice president’s memory.
“I wouldn’t do it differently. That was not a personal attack,” Castro said Friday on CNN’s “New Day.” “This was about a disagreement over what the vice president said regarding health care policy.”
Castro, who served in the Obama administration, accused Biden during the debate of contradicting himself on whether his health care plan would require Americans to buy into it. He appeared to suggest that Biden was losing his memory, prompting pushback from his fellow 2020 Democrats.
“Are you forgetting what you said two minutes ago? Are you forgetting already what you said just two minutes ago?” Castro said Thursday night.
The age of Biden, 76, has been a subject of discussion early in the Democratic presidential race. Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan, a Democrat running for president who did not qualify for Thursday’s debate, said last week the former vice president is “declining.”
Biden has said it’s “totally appropriate” for people to consider his age when evaluating him as a presidential candidate, though he’s repeatedly said he has the vigor necessary for the job.
Asked on CNN Friday morning if he was questioning Biden’s memory, Castro replied: “This is the game that the media like to play.”
Castro said he would’ve posed the same question of the other candidates on stage if they had done something similar to Biden.
“It didn’t matter that it was Joe Biden. If it had been another candidate that tried to deny what they just said two minutes ago, I would have asked them the same thing,” Castro said.
On CNN Friday, Biden’s deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield categorized Castro’s attack as personal and “factually wrong.”
She argued that Castro’s attack “did more damage” to himself than Biden.
Fellow Texas Democrat and 2020 presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke criticized Castro’s attack on Biden, seeing it as a personal jab.
“If you’ve got a policy difference with Joe Biden, by all means, let’s air it at the debate, but that kind of personal attack, I don’t think, is what we need right now and is insufficient to the challenges that we face,” O’Rourke told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota on “New Day” Friday.
CNN’s Chandelis Duster contributed to this report.