On the trail in New Hampshire Wednesday, Joe Biden called the early results from the Iowa caucuses a "gut punch."
"I'm not gonna sugarcoat it. We took a gut punch in Iowa," Biden said. "The whole process took a gut punch."
Biden finished fourth in Monday's caucuses, the first voting contest of the 2020 election. With 86% of precincts reporting on Wednesday, Buttigieg had 26.6% of delegates and Sanders was close behind, with 25.4%, Warren was in third place with 18.3% followed by the former vice president, who had 15.9%
While in New Hampshire on Wednesday, where next week's first-in-the-nation primary will be held, Biden went after the top two finishers by name in his remarks, a tactic he has rarely used on the campaign trail.
"We need a nominee who can help Democrats up and down the ticket," Biden argued. "But if Senator Sanders is the nominee for the party, every Democrat in America…will have to carry the label Senator Sanders has chose for himself…he calls himself a democratic socialist."
"Donald Trump is desperate to bend this — to pin the socialist label of socialist, socialist, socialist, on our party. We can't let him do that," Biden said. But he added that the Vermont senator a "good man."
Sanders and his campaign in the past month have regularly criticized Biden's long Senate record including hisand to negotiate cuts to Social Security to balance the federal budget.
Biden then shifted his focus to Buttigieg, the 38-year-old former mayor of South Bend whose strength in Iowa exceeded expectations.
Last week, Buttigieg criticized Biden as a D.C. insider, an attack Biden attempted to rebut on Wednesday. The former vice president ticked off a list of accomplishments from his decades in the federal government, including his working passing both Obamacare and the stimulus package as vice president.
"Is he really saying the Obama-Biden administration was a failure?" Biden asked. "Pete, just say it out loud."
The former vice president then seemed to compare his long political resume to Buttigieg's.
"I have great respect for Mayor Pete and his service to this nation, Biden said. "But I do believe it's a risk — to be just straight up with you — for this party and to nominate someone who's never held an office higher than mayor of a town of 100,000 people in Indiana."
Looking ahead to Tuesday's primary and beyond to the subsequent early-voting states, Biden signaled to his rivals and the national press corps that he is committed to winning the nomination.
"I know there are a awful lot of folks out there who are writing off this campaign," Biden said at the outset of the speech. "Well, I've got news for them. I'm not going anywhere."