Bernie Sanders has apologized to Democratic rival Joe Biden after one of his campaign surrogates said the former Vice President has a ‘big corruption problem’.
The Vermont Senator distanced himself from an op-ed written by Professor Zephyr Teachout, who branded Biden a ‘weak candidate’ and accused him of sucking up to big businesses and donors.
With exactly two weeks until the crunch Iowa caucus, Sanders scrambled to defuse the friction and bat away accusations of dirty campaigning.
He said Monday night: ‘It is absolutely not my view that Joe is corrupt in any way. And I’m sorry that that op-ed appeared.’
Teachout is not officially on the Sanders campaign team, but has championed his left-wing movement and introduced him at rallies.
‘Biden has a big corruption problem and it makes him a weak candidate,’ she wrote in the Guardian.
She added: ‘It looks like ‘Middle Class’ Joe has perfected the art of taking big contributions, then representing his corporate donors at the cost of middle- and working-class Americans.’
Biden, who is leading the pack of Democrats vying to take on Donald Trump in November’s election, accepted the apology.
The primary frontrunner tweeted: ‘Thanks for acknowledging this, Bernie. These kinds of attacks have no place in this primary.
‘Let’s all keep our focus on making Donald Trump a one-term president.’
Sanders has long railed against negative campaigning and said he was a victim of such political skulduggery when he unsuccessfully fought Hillary Clinton for a shot at the White House in 2016.
But he found himself in hot water last week when fellow candidate contender Elizabeth Warren accused him of previously urging her not to run for President.
Their feud climaxed in a sensational row at the end of Tuesday’s debate when Warren marched up to Sanders and said: ‘You called me a liar on national TV!’ while the microphones were still on.
Although Sanders and Warren grabbed headlines, it is Biden who will go into the February 3 Iowa poll with his nose in front.
But Barack Obama’s former vice president has been dogged by allegations of corruption which have been front and centre of Donald Trump’s impeachment – the trial kicked which off in the Senate today.
Trump was impeached in the House for abusing the power of the Oval Office by allegedly withholding military aid from Ukraine unless they investigated Biden, who was accused of using his power to get a prosecution quashed against the Ukraine energy company his son, Hunter, worked for.