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The Sad Trump-Biden Feud Is Only the Beginning of What 2020 Holds

If the latest spat feels like a 2020 preview, that’s because the candidates seem to think it is.

by Tim Marcin
May 29 2019, 2:03pm

Joe Biden has been running for president for barely a month, but the former vice president is already knee-deep in a feud with Donald Trump.

The latest salvo in the battle between the 70-something politicians came from President Trump, who tweeted late Tuesday that he was actually defending Biden when he called him a “low IQ individual” while traveling overseas (a breach of longstanding political etiquette).

“I was actually sticking up for Sleepy Joe Biden while on foreign soil,” Trump tweeted. “Kim Jong Un called him a ‘low IQ idiot,’ and many other things, whereas I related the quote of Chairman Kim as a much softer ‘low IQ individual.’ Who could possibly be upset with that?”

Trump has been jabbing Biden for days by siding with the North Korean dictator. Trump’s advisers have urged him to lay off the current Democratic front-runner, the AP reported, but he has yet to relent.

Meanwhile the Biden campaign has for the most part played it cool, purposefully trying to stay above the fray while also drafting off the attention a presidential feud brings. Kate Bedingfield, Biden’s communications director, said on Tuesday, for instance, that it was “beneath the dignity of the office” for Trump to “side repeatedly with a murderous dictator against a fellow American and former Vice President.” Later Tuesday evening, Biden told reporters at a Texas event: “I’m not going to get down in the mud, wrestling with this fella. I’m not going to do it. I don’t want to get into it. Everybody already knows who he is.”

Trump has recently focused his attacks on Biden as if he’s already his 2020 opponent. While polling has shown the former vice president has a sizable lead over the Democratic field—the RealClearPolitics polling average has him some 18 points ahead of second-place Bernie Sanders—it’s still very early in the race, with the Dems a long way off from settling on a nominee.

The AP reported that some Trump advisers. including son-in-law Jared Kushner, worry the president’s repeated attacks have boosted Biden, who has centered his campaign on the theme of electability. Trump has criticized Biden for everything from his parents moving to Delaware, to his unpopularity among some progressives, to the serious reports of unwanted touching. If the feud feels like a 2020 preview, that’s because the candidates seem to think it is.

Biden, for instance, has said ousting Trump is the first step to any policy proposal, instead of comparing his ideas to those of other Democrats. “If you want to know what the first and most important plank in my climate proposal is — beat Trump,” he told a Pennsylvania crowd on May 18. Trump, meanwhile, has tweeted about the former vice president again and again, even playing the part of political pundit by saying it looked like all the other candidates were “fading fast.”

“Looks like Bernie Sanders is history,” he tweeted on May 20. “Sleepy Joe Biden is pulling ahead and think about it, I’m only here because of Sleepy Joe and the man who took him off the 1% trash heap, President O! China wants Sleepy Joe BADLY!”

If Trump is right about the Democratic field, then this feud is America’s political reality through at least November 2020. Brace for more tweets.

Cover Image: Former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a campaign rally at Eakins Oval in Philadelphia, Saturday, May 18, 2019. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)