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Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders Stake Out Ideological Poles of Democratic Race

  • Establishment Democrat faces off against socialist firebrand
  • Front-runners’ long political careers are vulnerabilities
Joe Biden after addressing striking Stop & Shop workers in Boston on April 14.

Joe Biden after addressing striking Stop & Shop workers in Boston on April 14.

Photographer: MediaNews Group/Getty Images

Updated on

Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders are both white-haired septuagenarians with decades of experience in Washington. Yet the two front-runners represent opposite ideological poles in a packed field of candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination.

They offer voters a stark choice that mirrors a struggle inside the party over whether to pursue incrementalist or transformative policies. Biden is an establishment Democrat with a long record of bipartisan deals ranging from budget accords this decade to a now-maligned 1994 crime bill. Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist, was an early adopter of ideas including single payer health insurance and a $15 federal minimum wage, that have rapidly gained traction in the progressive base.