Presidential candidate Julian Castro faced a wave of criticism after he went after former Vice President Joe Biden during the Democratic debate Thursday night in Houston.
Answering a question about what some of the candidates were proposing for health care policy, Castro said Biden's plan would leave 10 million people uninsured by requiring people to opt into health insurance.
"I would not require them to opt in, they would automatically be enrolled," Castro said. "Barack Obama's vision was not to leave 10 million people uncovered. He wanted every single person in this country covered."
"They do not have to buy in," Biden replied. "They do not have to buy in."
"You just said that two minutes ago," Castro said, as he and Biden began to talk over each other. "Are you forgetting what you said two minutes ago?"
The moment kicked off a tense exchange that led South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg to say, "This is why presidential debates are becoming unwatchable."
Viewers took notice, too, seeing it as an attack on the former vice president's age and memory. A review of the debate transcript shows that Castro was misleading: Biden had said that Americans who lose their jobs can "automatically buy in" to health insurance coverage.
On Twitter, Pat Cunnane, formerly a senior writer for President Barack Obama, wrote that Castro represented the worst of what a debate is.
He later added, "I can't get over Castro's cringeworthy, unsubtle, repeated jabs at Biden's memory/age and his suggestion that he's somehow serving Obama better than his two-term Vice President. Drop out."
While some saw Castro's confrontation as holding Biden accountable, others called it a low blow and petty attack from the former housing secretary. CNN commentator Ana Navarro-Cardenas called it "ageist."
Another Twitter user wrote that they lost "any and all" respect for Castro. "He's attacked his colleagues twice -- viciously so. I have no time or patience for Trump-style vitriol," the user wrote.
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