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U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez said he saw former Labor Secretary Julián Castro’s questioning former Vice President Joe Biden’s memory on the debate stage last week as an attack on Biden’s age.
“My initial reaction was the same as many others. I thought it was totally Busch League, no pun intended,” Menendez said. “I thought it was inappropriate, and I thought it made him look desperate to try to break through. And I actually had been saying that he has been doing pretty good in the debates up to this moment, but it was Busch League.”
During an exchange on healthcare during the third Democratic presidential primary debate, Castro asked Biden whether he had forgotten a statement he made only minutes before.
“Are you forgetting what you said two minutes ago?” Castro said. “I can’t believe that you said — two minutes ago — that they had to buy in, and now you’re forgetting that. We need a health care system where you’re automatically enrolled.”
Many saw the statement as an attack on Biden’s age. The former vice president is 76.
Castro pushed back, claiming his statement targeted Biden changing his position, though fact checkers have deemed that claim mostly false.
Unlike U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, who sided with Castro in the feud and whom Menendez has endorsed, New Jersey’s senior senator did not agree with the former secretary’s characterization of his remarks.
“I’ve seen a replay of it, and it doesn’t strike me that way. If that’s what he meant, he used poor language to accomplish his goal,” Menendez said. “But it really comes across, I think, not only in poor taste but not good for someone who aspires to be president of the United states. You’ve got to bring people together, including people who are older in this country.”
A spokesperson for Castro did not immediately respond to a 1:54 p.m. call and text message seeking comment.