On the trail in New Hampshire Wednesday, Joe Biden called the latest results Iowa caucuses a “gut punch.”

“I’m not gonna sugarcoat it. We took a gut punch in Iowa,” Biden said. “The whole process took a gut punch.”

He was referring to what is at this point his fourth-place finish in the first voting contest in 2020, which took place Monday. With about 71% of the results released by the Iowa Democratic Party, Pete Buttigieg just ahead of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren also leading Biden.

While in New Hampshire, where next week’s first-in-the-nation primary will be held, Biden also went after the top two candidates by name in his remarks, a tactic he has rarely used on the campaign trail.

“We need a nominee who can help democrats up and down the ticket,” Biden argued, “But if Senator Sanders is the nominee for the party, every democrat in America…will have to carry the label Senator Sanders has chose for himself…he calls himself a democratic socialist.”

“Donald Trump is desperate to bend this — to pin the socialist label of socialist, socialist, socialist, on our party. We can’t let him do that,” Biden said, adding that the Vermont senator a “good man.”

Sanders and his campaign in the past month have regularly criticized Biden’s long Senate record including his vote in favor of the Iraq War and previous openness to negotiate cuts to Social Security in order to balance the federal budget.

Biden then shifted his focus to another leading contender in the race, Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend.

Last week, Buttigieg criticized Biden as a D.C. insider, an attack Biden attempted to rebut on Wednesday. The former vice president ticked off a list of accomplishments from his decades in the federal government, including his working passing both Obamacare and the Recovery Act as vice president.

“Is he really saying the Obama-Biden administration was a failure?” Biden asked. “Pete, just say it out loud.”

The former vice president then seemed to compare his long political resume to Buttigieg’s.

“I have great respect for Mayor Pete and his service to this nation. But I do believe it’s a risk – to be just straight up with you – for this party and to nominate someone who’s never held an office higher than mayor of a town of 100,000 people in Indiana.”

Looking ahead to Tuesday’s primary and beyond to the subsequent early-voting states, Biden signaled to his rivals and the national press corps that he is committed to winning the primary race.

“I know there are a awful lot of folks out there who…write off this campaign,” Biden said at the outset of the speech, “Well, I’ve got news for them. I’m not going anywhere.”

More about: