Even though Joe Biden is being attacked from within his own party for excessive public displays of affection, Donald Trump still fears the popular former vice president more than any other Democrat.
White House aides have said that the president worries Biden would win his home state of Pennsylvania if the two run against each other, as well as other northern “rust belt” states that Trump won in 2016. If that happens, then Trump’s chances of winning reelection will be slightly above zero.
His advisers have tried to make Trump feel better by saying that Biden will get pushed to the left during the Democratic primaries as he fights progressive candidates like Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris.
When that happens, Trump has been assured, Biden will not be as attractive to “mainstream” voters and thus is not likely to win states like Pennsylvania, Michigan, or Wisconsin.
But it doesn’t appear that Trump is buying these arguments. In fact, it’s starting to look like the president is terrified at the prospect of having to face off against Biden in 2020.
Trump is obsessed with polling and knows that Biden currently beats him by nearly nine points in a hypothetical head-to-head matchup.
The clearest sign that Trump sees Biden as his biggest threat is when he said to reporters yesterday: “I don’t see Joe Biden as a threat.” Then he added:
“I think he’s only a threat to himself. He’s been there a long time. His record’s not good. He’d have to run on the Obama failed record.”
When Trump says things like that you know he’s really worried. He’s conveniently forgetting that Obama was very popular with the American and left office with an approval rating of 60 percent.
Trump, by contrast, has struggled for the past two years to keep his approval rating above 40 percent.
Trump may talk big but his fear of Biden is shared by many other Republicans. Top GOP strategists said in December that they’d much prefer Trump to run against Warren, Cory Booker, or Sanders, who they believe they could paint as far-left radicals.
Expressing the worries of many within his party, one GOP strategist said about Biden:
“He wreaks calmness and normalcy, which I feel like people crave over the chaos of the Trump administration.”
Biden’s history of invading personal space might hinder his presidential bid, but it’s not likely when his probable opponent has a history of sexual assault and extramarital affairs with porn stars.
In his typical awkward fashion, Biden is trying to clean up his mess before making a formal announcement for the presidency. He’s given several explanations while maintaining that his intentions were pure.
He appeared at a meeting of the electrical workers union and made jokes about how he had received “permission” to hug two people—giving the impression that he treated the entire controversy as a joke.
After the event, he told reporters that he would “have to change somewhat how I campaign,” but never made an actual apology for what he did to make women uncomfortable.
“I’m not sorry for any of my intentions,” he added. “I’m not sorry for anything that I have ever done.”
By failing to apologize he has taken a page out of Donald Trump’s playbook. Biden thinks his lengthy liberal record in politics has earned him the right to hold his head high. He has said often that he has the best track record of accomplishment of any other possible Democratic candidate.
Biden has also said that he is the most qualified candidate when it comes to experience, such as foreign affairs and getting domestic legislation passed.
Certainly Trump and his GOP advisers know this is true.
After the electrical workers event, Trump felt he had to lash out at Biden and make some head-scratching comments which made him appear frightened and defensive.
“I’ve employed thousands of Electrical Workers,” he tweeted on Friday. “They will be voting for me!”
Nobody knows what Trump was referring to, but the tweet did highlight his insecurity at the prospect of running against the former vice president.
As polls continue to show that Biden is a top contender, and as more Democrats see him as having the best shot at defeating Trump in 2020, Trump’s fear of Biden will continue to grow. Conservatives interviewed at the Conservative Political Action Conference last month overwhelmingly see Biden as the greatest threat to Trump’s reelection bid.
As additional legal threats around Donald Trump continue to come from every direction, the president will likely likely become more and more worried that he will lose in 2020 (and thus lose his protection from being indicted).
As this happens, we can expect to see not only more bizarre behavior from Trump, but more attacks on Joe Biden as well.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.