Analysis: In shift, Biden gives Trump a tongue-lashing

John T. Bennett, CQ-Roll Call on

Published in Political News

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden has sharpened his campaign message, more and more often calling out his likely general election foe, Donald Trump, by name.

This pivot includes calling out the former commander in chief and GOP presidential front-runner for spearheading efforts to block a bipartisan border security and immigration package on Capitol Hill.

“I understand my predecessor is in Eagle Pass today. So here’s what I would say to Mr. Trump,” Biden said Thursday in Brownsville, Texas, during dueling trips he and Trump took to the U.S.-Mexico border. “Instead of playing politics with the issue, instead of telling members of Congress to block this legislation, join me or I’ll join you in telling the Congress to pass this bipartisan border security bill.

“We can do it together. You know and I know it’s the toughest, most efficient, most effective border security bill this country has ever seen,” he added, his voice rising. “So instead of playing politics with the issue, why don’t we just get together and get it done? Unless you remember who the heck you work for. We work for the American people, not the Democratic Party, the Republican Party.”

Simon Rosenberg, a Democratic strategist and author of “Hopium Chronicles” on Substack, called Biden’s shift “smart for two reasons.”

“First, Trump is the nominee of the Republican Party, and the election will be about him,” Rosenberg said in an email. “Second, we have an obligation to share what we know about Trump and his agenda so voters can understand what they are signing up for if they vote for him.”


The 81-year-old Biden also used an appearance last week on “Late Night with Seth Meyers” to try flipping the script on criticisms about his age made by the 77-year-old Trump and other Republicans.

“You gotta take a look at the other guy. He’s about as old as I am. But he can’t remember his wife’s name,” the president quipped with a grin, referring to what some saw as a forgetful flub late last month at a Conservative Political Action Conference event where he appeared to refer to spouse Melania Trump as “Mercedes.”

Biden then trotted out a new line aimed at taking voters’ focus off his age: “It’s about how old your ideas are. Look, I mean, this is a guy who wants to take us back. He wants to take us back on Roe v. Wade. He wants to take us back on a whole range of issues that (for) 50, 60 years, they’ve been solid American positions.”

It’s not just the seeking-reelection president who has shifted to a message — after he and his top aides spent much of their first two years in office avoiding using his predecessor’s last name — that is more aggressive in making their case that Trump is unfit for office and calling him out by name.


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