The unusual phrase (which Biden has used before), is from a John Wayne movie, he has said

Former Vice President Joe Biden raised eyebrows at an event in New Hampshire on Sunday when he responded to a woman’s question about his campaign’s finish in Iowa by calling her a “lying, dog-faced pony soldier” — a joking movie reference that didn’t go over as intended.

There was laughter in the room, and the woman who had asked the question reportedly said she wasn’t offended. But she later said she was taken aback, according to The Washington Post.

The woman, a 21-year-old student named Madison Moore, had brought up Biden’s fourth-place showing in the Iowa Democratic caucus and asked, “Why should voters believe you can win the national election?”

Biden, 77, asked Moore if she had ever been to a caucus before, to which she nodded yes and Biden responded by joking, “No you haven’t. You’re a lying, dog-faced pony soldier,” as the crowd laughed and Moore smiled.

The unusual response (which Biden has used before), is from a Wayne movie, he has said — though it’s not clear which Western film the quote is from and it seems he may be combining quotes from different films together.

Moore, who said she supported Andrew Yang, “felt the answer was defensive” but wasn’t offended, according to CBS reporter Bo Erickson. Speaking with the Post, however, she said the interaction had been more off-putting.

“His inability to answer a simple question from a nobody college student like me only exacerbates that reality,” she said, according to the Post.

“I’m not trying to humiliate anyone,” Moore told the paper. “He wasn’t sitting in at the Senate trials for impeachment, so he had Iowa to himself. And then you’ve been a politician for like decades — how are you not way above all the other candidates?”

Video of the moment circulated widely on Twitter, where his word choice was criticized.

(Biden’s campaign did not comment.)

Joe Biden
Former Vice President Joe Biden
| Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty

Vice President Biden entered the 2020 race as the front-runner to challenge President Donald Trump in November, and he remains in the top group of candidates. But he placed fourth in the Iowa caucus and is expected not to win New Hampshire’s primary on Tuesday.

Aides, however, have underlined that both Iowa and New Hampshire do not play to Biden’s strengths as a candidate, given their lack of diversity, and that he should do much better in Nevada and South Carolina in the coming weeks.

Elsewhere on the trail, his family has been put in the cross-hairs by the president and his allies, who have spread unfounded theories about Biden’s son Hunter and Ukraine.

The former vice president pushed back at a voter while campaigning in Iowa after the man questioned Biden about Hunter in December.

The 83-year-old Iowa voter had accused Vice President Biden of being “no better” than President Trump and asked about the theories circling in conservative circles that the Bidens had somehow acted corruptly in Ukraine.

“You’re a damn liar, man,” Biden replied then. “That’s not true. And no one has ever said that. No one has proved that.”

Joe Biden
Former Vice President Joe Biden speaking on the campaign trail in early February.
| Credit: Joshua Lott/Getty Images

On Sunday, Biden alluded to his poor showing in Iowa while reiterating his commitment to campaigning.

“I know there are a lot of folks who want to write our campaign off already — but I’ve got news for them: We’re not going anywhere. There’s too much at stake in this election,” he tweeted, adding in a follow-up tweet: “I’ve lost a lot in my life, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to stand by and lose my country too. We have to beat Donald Trump.”