(Bloomberg) — Fighting for his political survival, Joe Biden turned sharply more aggressive on Pete Buttigieg on Saturday, arguing that the former mayor of a small city is ill-equipped to defeat Donald Trump and lead the U.S. as president.“I have a great deal of respect for Mayor Pete and his service to the nation. But I do not believe we are a party at risk if we nominate me. And I do believe we are a party at risk if we nominate someone who’s never held a higher office than the mayor of South Bend, Indiana? Yeah, I do,” Biden said in a speech in Manchester, New Hampshire, his first since he took a much tougher posture against Buttigieg at Friday’s debate of Democratic candidates.

“Do I think there’s a difference between getting a city budget passed, smaller than the city of Manchester or getting three Republican votes” for the 2009 Recovery Act, which sought to revive the flagging U.S. economy, the former vice president asked. “Yeah, I do,” he said.

Biden is battling to recover from his fourth-place finish in Iowa and amid low expectations for Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary, in which he’s described himself as an “underdog.” His campaign believes it will begin to show strength in Nevada and South Carolina, which vote later in the month and in the more than a dozen states that will follow on Super Tuesday, March 3.

While Biden focused his attention on Buttigieg, who poses the most direct threat to his appeal to moderate voters, he also kept up his criticism of Bernie Sanders, who leads most New Hampshire polls. Biden reminded the crowd in Manchester that Sanders calls himself a “democratic socialist” and said he believes the Vermont senator’s far-left positions are likely to hurt Democrats in November’s election.

Biden’s campaign coupled the candidate’s attack on Buttigieg with a scathing web video that offers dismissive comparisons of their respective achievements. It highlights Biden’s work on the Affordable Care Act and the Iran nuclear deal in contrast to Buttigieg’s work as mayor, including getting lights installed under a bridge.

“We’re electing a president. What you’ve done matters,” the 77-year-old candidate’s video says of his 38-year-old opponent.

In New Hampshire, Biden was also sure to note Buttigieg’s struggles with African American voters. The former vice president has strong support from that group, keeping his campaign confident that it can mount a comeback in primaries beginning in late February.

“Mayor Pete says the only time the Democrats win the presidency is when we nominate someone new,” Biden said. “But here’s what he never mentions: The only Democrats to win the presidency is where we have overwhelming support from the African American community and don’t take it for granted. That was true for Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. It’s just a reality.”Buttigieg spokesman Chris Meagher said the mocking ad reflected Biden’s status as a Washington insider. “South Bend residents who now have better jobs, rising income, and new life in their city don’t think their lives are a Washington politician’s punchline,” Meagher said in a statement. “The vice president’s decision to run this ad speaks more to where he currently stands in this race than it does about Pete’s perspective as a mayor and veteran.”

(Disclaimer: Michael Bloomberg is also seeking the Democratic presidential nomination. He is the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News.)

To contact the reporters on this story: Jennifer Epstein in Manchester, New Hampshire at jepstein32@bloomberg.net;Emma Kinery in Manchester, New Hampshire at ekinery@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Wendy Benjaminson at wbenjaminson@bloomberg.net, Magan Crane, Max Berley

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