(The Hill) — President Joe Biden has been proactively getting in Donald Trump’s face in recent days.
Biden has been taunting his predecessor with slights, calling him “the defeated former president of the United States.”
He’s called him out by name, dubbing him a liar and saying he lacks courage.
Biden has even ripped Trump’s patriotism and loyalty to the country, pointing to his actions on Jan. 6, 2021: “You can’t be pro-insurrection and pro-cop. You can’t be pro-insurrection and pro-democracy. You can’t be pro-insurrection and pro-American,” Biden said in a virtual address Monday to the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives conference.
A day later, Biden took to Twitter, in a rare move, to rip Trump again: “Call me old fashioned, but I don’t think inciting a mob that attacks a police officer is ‘respect for the law.’”
Earlier this month, Biden said while he couldn’t offer a prediction on if Trump would be the Republican nominee in 2024, he said he “would not be disappointed” if he were to face off with Trump again in 2024.
After ending his COVID-19 isolation, Biden appeared to take another shot at Trump, noting the former president, who got COVID before vaccines were available, had to be “helicoptered” to Walter Reed hospital.
The Trump insults are becoming more common, and they are no accident.
With the midterm elections inching closer, Biden is expected to play up the contrast between Democrats and Republicans and at times would be expected to use Trump as his foil.
The January 6th committee hearing has offered Biden the perfect backdrop for the rash of new attacks, providing evidence of Trump’s alleged involvement in the insurrection on the Capitol and his willingness to overturn the 2020 presidential election.
And it coincides with the hopes of Democratic campaigns that voters will come out and vote against the GOP because of Trump.
“Why not compare and contrast the person who truly is the face of the Republican Party?” said Democratic strategist Rodell Mollineau. “Donald Trump is the face of the opposition, and it’s smart to remind Americans who he is.”
Such strategies have not been entirely effective for Democrats. Just last year, Republican Glenn Youngkin won the Virginia governor’s race as Democrats sought to tie him to Trump.
But it’s still a solid strategy, say Democrats, given dealmaking with Republicans is largely over.
“He’s gotten everything he can for now from Senate Republicans, and Trump is making noise about announcing soon, so it’s the perfect time to drop the gloves and get back up in their faces,” Democratic strategist Eddie Vale said. “And then it’s also perfectly timed up on top of that with the January 6th hearing putting the spotlight on Trump’s insurrection to draw the direct contact between his danger and demagoguery and Biden’s growing-rapidly-by-the-day achievements.”
Though Biden received unwelcome news on Thursday in the form of a Commerce Department report showing the economy shrunk in the second quarter, it hasn’t been a bad week for the president.
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) struck a deal with Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on what would be the most massive climate change bill in congressional history. If it passes, it would be a significant win at a time when Biden needed one.
Separately, Congress approved a bill to help U.S. production of semiconductors, and Biden is hoping the Senate may still pass a bill codifying same-sex marriage.
Biden’s national polling average has lingered around 38 percent, and surveys show most Democrats don’t want Biden to seek reelection in 2024.
Trump, who could launch a new presidential bid any day, has often lobbed attacks on Biden. He has criticized the president on everything from his mental acuity to his handling of economy.
Biden, in contrast, has avoided Trump insults for much of his presidency, not wanting to give attention to his predecessor.
Insults, when they came, were done mostly through veiled asides.
“Finally, infrastructure week,” Biden quipped in November, referring to an ongoing joke during the Trump administration about the inability to move legislation through at that time.
But in recent days, it has been Biden punching first.
“He needs to drop the tough guy act,” Fox News Host Jesse Watters said Wednesday on the network’s show “The Five.”
Biden has positioned himself as the best person who can defeat Trump in 2024, a comment he’s made both publicly and privately to aides and allies.
“He truly believes he’s the only one who can win,” one ally said. “And I believe he’s 100 percent correct.”
The ally acknowledged that one of Biden’s weaknesses against someone like Trump is the notion that he lacks the stamina to take on the former president or other Republicans including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Democrats also want to elect someone they see as a fighter who isn’t afraid to rip the nominee to shreds. “So to have Biden out there taking on Trump without being lured into the fight is a good thing,” the ally said. “Why shouldn’t he be the one to throw the first punches? Why wait for the bully?”
At the same time, Democrats say Trump’s grip around the base isn’t what it used to be.
“The Republican Party remains Trump’s party but it’s bad for their brand among swing voters and in general elections,” said Ben LaBolt, the Democratic strategist who served as a spokesman to former President Barack Obama. “There’s only one candidate that proved themselves able to take on Donald Trump and win the last election — Joe Biden — and a tete-a-tete between the two of them continues to elevate Biden and the Democratic Party.”