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Joe Biden Says Pete Buttigieg 'Stole' His Health Care Plan

Joe Biden Says Pete Buttigieg 'Stole' His Health Care Plan

His problem seems to involve the public option.

True

Former Vice President Joe Biden has accused Democratic primary opponent Mayor Pete Buttigieg of plagiarizing his health plan.

"He stole it," Biden told reporters, according to NBC News. "What would you have done to me? You'd have torn my ears off."

Buttigieg, who has made history as the first openly gay presidential candidate to appear in a nationally televised debate, has sold his own health care plan "Medicare for all who want it."

Biden, though, said that's a new way of simply favoring a public option, a central part of his own health care plan.

The South Bend, Ind., mayor responded to Biden's comments in an interview with CNN's Caroline Kenny Tuesday. Buttigieg didn't attack Biden for his remarks but instead said the plans are not the same.

"I've been talking about Medicare for All Who Want It since at least February, and also the plans are not exactly the same," he said. Buttigieg said that the similarities of their plans make them the "best one" for America.

Buttigieg's campaign send to The Advocate links to early remarks on his own health care plan. That included comments on C-Span as far back as Feb. 8. ""Thank good policy for the existence of Medicare, and I believe all Americans ought to enjoy that," Buttigieg said then. "So we can talk about different structures to get there. I think a pathway there could be Medicare for All Who Want It, and kind of going down the road of making it available as a kind of public option that people gradually buy into. And then if people like me are right that it's a good option then that's how we graduate to a world where it really is the single payer. That's where I come at it from."

And right after the accusatory statement from Biden, Buttigieg did promote his own health care plan.

"The freedom to live a healthy life is an essential part of the American promise -- yet millions find their health determined by who they are or where they live," he wrote on Twitter. "I will make achieving health equity a strategic priority during my first 100 days in office."

Notably, Buttigieg has also addressed health care in his comprehensive LGBTQ equality agenda.

The accusation comes as Buttigieg performs well in polls for early states Iowa and New Hampshire. Solid performances in those states could rocket the Indiana mayor from relative obscurity a year ago to a position to win the Democratic nomination over established candidates like Biden, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

The Iowa caucuses will be held February 3, the New Hampshire primary February 11.

Biden's comments came on the "No Malarkey" bus tour, where he's promising unfettered access to media.

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