Joe Biden defended the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, calling for building on it rather than replacing it with the "Medicare for All" system pushed by Sen. Bernie Sanders.
"The quickest fastest way to do it is build on Obamacare, to build on what we did," Biden said Thursday night during the chaotic second night of the first Democratic debate of the 2020 cycle.
Biden leads the 20-plus candidate presidential primary field in the polls. Sanders usually polls second.
Biden said he opposes anyone, Republican or Democrat, who would remove or replace Obamacare.
Biden's comments were the latest iteration of his strategy to tie himself closely to the legacy of President Barack Obama, under whom he served as vice president for eight years.
Biden said that adding a public option, while maintaining private insurance, is a more practical short-term option than Sanders' proposal to tear down the private health care industry entirely.
Sanders refused to budge and slammed the health insurance industry for its profit motive.
"We'll do it the way real change has always taken place," Sanders said. "We will have Medicare for All when tens of millions of people are prepared to stand up and tell the insurance companies that their day is gone and health care is a human right and not something to make huge profits off of."