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Biden jokingly calls voter a 'lying dog-faced pony soldier' at New Hampshire event

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By Allan Smith  with NBC News Politics
Image: Joe Biden speaks during a dinner in Manchester, N.H, on Feb. 8, 2020
Joe Biden speaks during a dinner in Manchester, N.H, on Feb. 8, 2020.   -   Copyright  Scott Olson Getty Images

HAMPTON, N.H. — Former Vice President Joe Biden offered a puzzling response to a voter who asked how he can be expected to win a national election after placing fourth in Iowa.

At a campaign event in New Hampshire, the woman warned Biden that she was about to ask a potentially mean question before saying, "How do you explain the performance in Iowa, and why should voters believe that you can win the national election?"

Biden said the question was legitimate but then asked if she had "ever been to a caucus" before.

She signaled that she had, to which Biden said: "No, you haven't. You're a lying dog-faced pony soldier." The audience laughed in response.

The comment is a reference to a line Biden has used before, one he has claimed is from a John Wayne movie. As he finished answering the woman's question, Biden said it was "not a mean question" but "an honest question."

It's unclear what movie Biden was referencing. The woman told the Washington Postthat she was surprised by his reaction.

"I'm not one to just push on wounds. I'm not trying to humiliate anyone," she said.

Scrutiny on Biden's campaign has intensified in recent days following his poor performance in Iowa.

New Hampshire polling has virtually flipped in the days following the Iowa vote. About three weeks ago, Biden held a 10-point edge on Buttigieg in the Granite State; he now trails the ex-mayor by about 10 points, with Sanders in the top spot, according to the RealClearPolitics average of several polls.

Buttigieg holds a 10-point lead on Biden in a CNN/University of New Hampshire poll released this weekend. And he holds an 8-point lead over Biden in an NBC News/Marist poll released Friday.

The former vice president is also well known for his gaffes on the campaign trail. In December, he called one Iowa voter a "damn liar" and challenged him to a push-up contest after the man questioned the former vice president's age and Ukraine dealings.

"I saw [Biden] at the debate last night. He was a little iffy," Moranda Gagnon, a health services worker from Manchester who's undecided between Biden and Buttigieg, told NBC News on Saturday after Friday night's Democratic debate, adding that "the age thing does concern me with Biden."