CNN hosts town halls with Biden, Warren, Yang and Steyer

By Jessica Estepa, CNN

Updated 7:25 p.m. ET, February 6, 2020
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8:42 p.m. ET, February 5, 2020

Biden on Limbaugh: “I don't think he understands the American code of decency and honor”

From CNN's Kate Sullivan

Edward M. PioRoda/CNN
Edward M. PioRoda/CNN

Former Vice President Joe Biden said Wednesday that President Donald Trump awarding conservative radio personality Rush Limbaugh the Presidential Medal of Freedom was more about maintaining his right-wing political base than anything else. 

First lady Melania Trump placed the medal on Limbaugh during Trump’s State of the Union address in a surprise move on Tuesday, one day after Limbaugh publicly revealed he has advanced lung cancer. 

“Rush Limbaugh will spend his entire time on the air dividing people, belittling people, talking about how, talking about blacks in ways, African Americans in ways that — anyway, I do feel badly, and I mean this sincerely, that he's suffering from a terminal illness. So he has my empathy and sympathy no matter what his background is,” Biden said. 

“But the idea that he … receives a medal that is of the highest honor that can committed, given to a civilian, I find, quite frankly, driven more by trying to maintain your right-wing political credentials than it is anything else,” Biden said. 

Biden himself was awarded the Medal of Freedom by then-President Barack Obama in 2017. Biden served as Obama's vice president.

“I mean, if you read some of the things that Rush has said about people, their backgrounds, their ethnicity, how he speaks to them. I don't think he speaks, I don't think he understands the American code of decency and honor,” Biden said. 

“But, look, this is Donald Trump," Biden said.

Watch the moment:

8:26 p.m. ET, February 5, 2020

Biden: You can trust me on Social Security, criticizes Sanders supporters

From CNN's Gregory Krieg

Faced with Sen. Bernie Sanders' criticism of his record on Social Security, former Vice President Joe Biden promised to protect and expand the program, then called out Sanders' supporters for distorting his position in a misleadingly edited video.

Biden touted his own campaign's plan before responding to a single clip in which he appears to be agreeing with former GOP House Speaker Paul Ryan.

"Well I just have (doubters) look at the facts," Biden said. He then cited Politifact, which wrote that the video in question "misrepresented my position on Social Security."

But Biden stopped short of directly criticizing Sanders.

"Whether he did it or not, his supporters put out a clip that took out of context what I said," Biden said. The Sanders campaign played up the video, but did not cut or create it.

"Folks, I’ve been a strong supporter of Social Security my whole career," Biden added, "and the fact of the matter is I’m the one that has a concrete as to how to make it work and I think I can get it done."

Still, beyond the controversial clip, the questions over his past record are less easy to answer.

Many high-ranking Democrats in the 1980s and 1990s -- like Biden -- sought to signal their seriousness about the deficit by expressing a willingness to negotiate with the GOP over plans to slow its growth or raise the retirement age.

Despite having gone on the record in the past decades saying he would be willing to buck his party to strike a bipartisan deal on Social Security, Biden drew a clear line on one of the most aggressive GOP proposals: The George W. Bush administration quickly abandoned a 2005 move to privatize it.

8:10 p.m. ET, February 5, 2020

Biden on Iowa: "I expected to do better"

From CNN's Eric Bradner

Edward M. PioRoda/CNN
Edward M. PioRoda/CNN

Former Vice President Joe Biden acknowledged his Iowa finish -- which appears on pace to be fourth place, behind former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren -- was a disappointment.

“I expected to do better and I expected that our organization would perform better. But the fact is, I’m happy to be here in New Hampshire,” Biden said during a CNN town hall Wednesday night in New Hampshire. 

Iowa is a marquee state for candidates hoping to generate momentum, but Biden minimized the state’s impact, pointing out that it awards a tiny share of the overall number of delegates required to win the Democratic nomination. 

8:05 p.m. ET, February 5, 2020

Joe Biden's town hall has begun


The former vice president is addressing New Hampshire Democrats and independents who say they are going to vote in Tuesday's primary, as well as Saint Anselm College students.

8:04 p.m. ET, February 5, 2020

Biden sharpens attacks on Buttigieg and Sanders after Iowa defeat

From CNN's Sarah Mucha

Ahead of Wednesday night's town hall, Joe Biden warned attendees at an event that Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders would hurt Democrats running in down ballot elections because he is a democratic socialist. And he admonished former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg for what he described as criticism of President Barack Obama's presidency.

The attacks come after a poor showing in Iowa for the former vice president.

Biden's comments were a notable shift in tone for the former vice president, who had a disappointing showing in Iowa behind Buttigieg, Sanders and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Buttigieg is currently leading the Iowa caucus with 71% of precincts reporting, with Sanders close behind.

Read the full story here.

8:05 p.m. ET, February 5, 2020

Here is tonight's lineup


Four candidates will speak to New Hampshire voters on Wednesday night. All times are ET:

  • Former Vice President Joe Biden at 8 p.m.
  • Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren at 9 p.m.
  • Businessman Andrew Yang at 10 p.m.
  • Businessman Tom Steyer at 11 p.m.

7:33 p.m. ET, February 5, 2020

Eyes turn to New Hampshire -- but Iowa is still counting

From CNN's Eric Bradner

The Democratic presidential race has shifted to New Hampshire, with the full field of 2020 contenders blanketing the state ahead of its Tuesday primary.

But in Iowa, they're still counting, after technical issues with the app used to report results led to a complete breakdown on caucus night.

With 86% of Iowa's precincts reporting, former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg remained the leader of the race, with 26.7% of state delegates. He's closely trailed by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, with 24.9%.

They're followed by Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren at 17.9%, former Vice President Joe Biden at 15.9% and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar at 12.1%.

Read the full story here