Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden listens to New Hampton resident Merle Gorman's reasons why he wouldn't vote for him, just before the exchange became heated. (Photo by Bob Fenske/Tribune)

Biden's New Hampton campaign goes viral after heated exchange with retired farmer

Former vice president questioned about his age and son's employment in Ukraine

Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden made his presidential pitch to New Hampton residents Thursday, but at least for a few moments, this wasn’t your typical “Iowa nice” campaign stop.

That’s when the 77-year-old Biden and an 83-year-old retired farmer named Merle Gorman had a heated exchange over Biden’s age and the Ukraine issue that has dogged the longtime Delaware senator who served as Barack Obama’s vice president for eight years.

“I’ve got two problems with you. One is you’re damn near as old as I am. You’re too old,” Gorman said. “I’m 83 and I know damn well I don’t have the mental faculties I did [when I was younger].”

And then Gorman questioned the job Biden’s son, Hunter, held with a natural gas company in the Ukraine during the Obama Administration.

“You sent your son over there to get a job and with a gas company where he had no experience … in order to get access for the president,” Gorman said. “You’re selling access to the president just like [President Trump] was.”

Biden snapped back, “You’re a damn liar, man. That’s not true and no one has ever said that.”

Before the exchange ended, Biden joked that his age wasn’t a factor in the race and challenged Gorman to a “pushup challenge.”

The exchange took up just a few minutes of Biden’s 90-minute stop in New Hampton, but it generated national news; in fact, as of 3 p.m. on Thursday, it was the lead story on fox and was on the “front page” of websites ranging from CNN to the Washington Post.

— For more on Biden's campaign stop in New Hampton, see the Dec. 10 Tribune

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