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Biden defends LGBTQ record at Iowa forum

Dems spend weekend in Iowa
Dems spend weekend in Iowa 03:42

Democratic presidential candidates addressed a forum dedicated to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues in Iowa on Friday evening. During the event, former Vice President Joe Biden engaged in a tense exchange with a female moderator over his record on supporting gay rights.

Biden was challenged by moderator Lyz Lenz, a Cedar Rapids Gazette columnist, about his support for the Defense of Marriage Act and Don't Ask, Don't Tell as a senator.

Lenz also questioned Biden about his comment that Vice President Mike Pence, who has a history of supporting anti-LGBTQ rights policies as governor of Indiana, was a "decent guy."

Biden pointed out that he came out in support of same-sex marriage before former President Barack Obama in 2012. Biden, seemingly sarcastically, called Lenz a "lovely person." After their exchange, Lenz tweeted that Biden called her a "real sweetheart," which she took as condescending.

Supporters are quick to note Biden did vote for an amendment to strike Don't Ask, Don't Tell, which was introduced as a compromise to allow gay people to serve in the military, in the 1990s, and that he has a long history of supporting benefits for same-sex couples.

The forum came as Senator Kamala Harris is doubling down on her efforts in Iowa. While Harris has been slipping in the polls, she has announced her determination to finish in the top three in the Iowa caucus.

"I'm moving here," Harris has joked. She has also said: "It can be frustrating, frankly, to have to make these decisions that that feel like a trade-off. But I plan on spending as much time as I can here."

Voter John Elphic told CBS News that after attending events by Harris and Senator Elizabeth Warren, he is still torn as for whom he will vote. "I like 'em both," Elphic said.

Undecided voters like Elphic can show up to another big political event Saturday: the Iowa Steak Fry, where organizers grill 10,500 steaks for more than 12,000 attendees, who will get to hear from 17 candidates. The event will also have 1,000 vegan burgers, all of it made on 10 grills by 40 grillers.

Ed O'Keefe contributed to this report.

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