Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden

Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden attends the Rainbow PUSH Coalition Annual International Convention on June 28, 2019 in Chicago. (Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

'Look at My Record, Child,' Biden Tells Adult Climate Campaigner in Condescending Response to Super PAC Question

"Biden needs to wrestle seriously with young people demanding real leadership," says Sunrise Movement co-founder, "and stop dismissing young women asking him legitimate questions as children."

Jessica Corbett

Former Vice President Joe Biden came under fire from progressives Monday as video footage circulated online showing his condescending response to a young woman who questioned him about abandoning his opposition to super PACs in the face of a cash-strapped presidential campaign.

"Since you've reversed and are now taking super PAC money... how can we trust that you're not fighting for the people profiting off climate change?" Lily Levin, an 18-year-old volunteer with the Sunrise Movement, asked the Democratic front-runner at a Sunday night rally in Durham, North Carolina.

Interrupting her question, a visibly frustrated Biden replied, "Look at my record, child."


The short clip sparked swift outrage. In These Times associate editor Dayton Martindale tweeted, "Biden's condescension and unjustified arrogance—his climate record isn't that good!—are exactly why youth need meaningful democratic input in climate policy."

Levin, meanwhile, said Monday that "I am upset that Joe Biden did not address any of the content of my question, and instead referred to me in a condescending way."

"He referenced 'good paying jobs' and renewable energy in his speech, but he seems to be all talk," the activist continued. "His support for former fossil fuel executives shows that he has continued to undermine low income communities of color—specifically Indigenous and Black communities—through environmental racism and injustice, both here in eastern North Carolina and nationally."

Although Biden declined to actually engage with the content of Levin's question, some critics seized on his remark and examined his record on climate issues.

As the Sunrise Movement detailed in a statement Moday,

his record on climate change is mixed. The Obama-Biden administration promoted an all-of-the-above energy policy that promoted natural gas and fracking, despite the rapid need to totally transition away from fossil fuels. In his 2020 campaign, he's refused to join other candidates in calling for a ban on fracking and put forward a $1.7 trillion climate plan, much less ambitious than some of his rivals' plans. Moreover, he's hired Heather Zichal to advise his climate policy, who earned more than $1 million as a board member of a natural gas company.

While the movement's climate scorecard for the crowded 2020 Democratic presidential primary race is forthcoming, Biden has ranked in the middle and at the bottom of scorecards from other groups as the other two top tier candidates—Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)—have earned higher grades.

Sanders and Warren, who are both fueling their White House runs with small-dollar donations, also have outraised Biden and maintained their opposition to super PACs.

Warren's campaign, in a fundraising email Monday, wrote that "I'm not counting on a billionaire to fund a super PAC for me—because the Democratic primary can't just be one more plaything for the rich and powerful."

In a statement last week, Sanders campaign manager Faiz Shakir called Biden's reversal on super PACs "a recipe to maintain a corrupt political system which enriches wealthy donors and leaves the working class behind."

Sunrise Movement co-founder Varshini Prakash concurred, calling the ex-vice president's move "deeply troubling."

"No one knows if the new super PAC is taking huge sums of money from executives at Exxon, BP, and Chevron, and that makes us doubt his commitment to climate action," said Prakash. "Biden needs to wrestle seriously with young people demanding real leadership, and stop dismissing young women asking him legitimate questions as children."

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

... We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Watch: Bernie Sanders Hosts 'Saving American Democracy' Town Hall

"Republicans in state after state are working to make it harder and harder to vote. We can't let them succeed."

Common Dreams staff ·

As SCOTUS Considers 'Extinguishing' Right to Abortion, Calls Mount for Congress to 'Step Up'

"Despite the protections that the legal framework like Roe provides, it has never been enough," said one doctor. "We continue to work toward reproductive justice."

Jessica Corbett ·

'Time to Get the Job Done': Stacey Abrams Launches New Georgia Gubernatorial Bid

"Now more than ever, it's clear Brian Kemp's days as governor are numbered."

Brett Wilkins ·

US Must Tackle Marine Plastics Pollution 'From Source to Sea': Report

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine study found that the U.S. is responsible for about a quarter of the plastics that enter the world's oceans each year.

Brett Wilkins ·

First US Omicron Case Confirmed as WHO Chief Decries Failure to Share Vaccines Globally

Factors including low vaccine coverage have created "a recipe for breeding and amplifying variants," the top health official said.

Andrea Germanos ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.

Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo