As Other Democratic Candidates Close In On Biden, Trump Tries To ‘Soften Up The Front-Runner’

Democratic White House front-runner Joe Biden has slipped in the polls, but President Donald Trump has only intensified his attempts to discredit and disqualify the former vice president.

In the last five days alone, the president has dubbed his potential 2020 rival “sleepy” and “a reclamation project,” suggesting in one tweet that “some things are just not salvageable.” He has asserted that China and other countries are “begging” for a President Biden so they can get back to trade tactics that “ripped us off for years.”

Trump has also alleged that as a Delaware senator and vice president, Biden — whose late son Beau Biden served in Iraq as an officer in the Delaware Army National guard and who ends his speeches with some version of the words “May God protect our troops” — “deserted our military, our law enforcement and our health care.”

It appears Trump smells blood in the political waters.

And that’s because Biden — who regularly attacks the president as a threat to America’s democracy and values — has dropped in several polls since a rocky performance in the Democratic presidential debate last month. He has since admitted to being unprepared for a broadside from California Sen. Kamala Harris over his past opposition to federally mandated busing and his comments about working with segregationists on legislation early in his Senate career.

GOP strategist Ford O’Connell said Trump and his campaign team are focusing on Biden because when it comes to the voters the president needs to win a second term, they find Biden harder to disqualify than the other Democrats.

“That’s seniors, that’s working-class whites, that’s Cubans and conservative Hispanics, and that’s suburban females. Joe Biden has the most potential to perform well with each of those groups,” said O’Connell, also an adjunct professor at George Washington University’s Graduate School of Political Management. “When you look at what the president’s doing, it makes perfect sense through that particular lens. … He’s trying to soften up the front-runner so the other Democratic candidates can take him down.”

A senior White House official did not dismiss that description of the president’s tactics when approached on Wednesday.

Read more from John T. Bennett at Roll Call

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Analysis & Political Strategy