Washington — Former Secretary of State John Kerry accused Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders of "distorting" fellow candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden's record on the war with Iraq and said Sanders lacks the foreign policy experience Biden has.
Sanders has ramped up his attacks on Biden over the 2003 invasion of Iraq, with the most recent escalation coming Saturday when Sanders' campaign claimed Biden was trying to "rewrite history."
Kerry, a surrogate for the former vice president, defended Biden and said his 2002 vote in favor a resolution authorizing the use of force in Iraq was "a vote for the president to have leverage with respect to getting Saddam Hussein back to the ... inspections."
"I think that Bernie, regrettably, is distorting Joe's record," Kerry said Sunday on "Face the Nation." "I mean, he doesn't have what Joe Biden has, which is eight years of sitting on the National Security Council and demonstrating his judgment."
Kerry, who served in the Senate alongside Biden and also voted for the resolution, said it was "very clear" that those who supported the resolution were "listening to a president who made a pledge that he was going to do diplomacy, that he was going to exhaust diplomacy, build a coalition." The resolution gave President George W. Bush the authority to use military force to ensure Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein complied with U.N. Security Council resolutions.
Biden has long faced criticism for his 2002 vote, including from Sanders, who voted against the resolution as a member of the House. But as the country sees tensions between the U.S. and Iran escalate following the drone strike that killed Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani earlier this month, Biden's defenders have sought to use foreign policy experience as a way to differentiate him from the other Democratic presidential hopefuls.
"I think Bernie is trying to drive a wedge in there," Kerry said. "I understand that, but I think the vice president has unparalleled, demonstrated accomplishment and success in foreign policy as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee and as vice president. And he, in my judgment, is the one person running for president who the moment he takes office, has the ability to be able to address a lot of questions, including the credibility of the United States."
Biden and Sanders will bothfor the seventh Democratic presidential debate, alongside four other candidates. The debate is the last before the Iowa caucuses February 3.
The most recentSanders, Biden and former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg in a first-place tie in Iowa, with each at 23% as the first choice nominee.