Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders are both on the attack over one critical issue—Social Security. On Tuesday, the former vice president released what some are calling the first negative ad of the 2020 Democratic primary election, going after the senator from Vermont for what he says are “dishonest attacks” against his record on the benefits that so many Americans rely on.

“As Democrats, we can’t launch dishonest attacks against fellow Democrats,” the campaign ad starts. “We have to beat Donald Trump.”

The ad then goes on to deny some of the claims that Sanders has previously made about the veteran politician and 2020 hopeful, flat out denying any support of Paul Ryan’s plan to cut Social Security.

“Bernie’s negative attacks won’t change the truth,” the ad concludes. “Joe Biden is still the strongest Democrat to beat Donald Trump.” 

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Sander’s camp was quick to respond with campaign manager Faiz Shakir issuing a statement that was shared with ESSENCE last night. In it, he says, “Joe Biden just released the first negative ad of the 2020 Democratic primary, and let’s be clear about why: he’s trying to distort his decades-long record of proposing and voting for cuts to Social Security benefits for millions of people. Joe Biden is no defender of Social Security, and a negative ad won’t help him outrun his record.” 

The campaign included with its statement, a link to a four-page document that outlines Biden’s record on the matter at hand.

Sanders himself responded to the controversy, saying, “Let’s be honest, Joe. One of us fought for decades to cut Social Security, and one of us didn’t. But don’t take it from me. Take it from you.”

In a study released in July 2019, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities found that Social Security plays a major role in reducing economic disparities between African American and white families. The research also showed that Social Security makes up a greater portion of African American seniors’ retirement portfolios and lifts 1.5 million Black seniors out of poverty.

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