On Monday morning, President Donald Trump dismissed the two current Democratic frontrunners in the 2020 presidential race as “history” and the pick of China. He also suggested that former Vice President Joe Biden would have a hard time beating him, since voters elected Trump as a response to former President Barack Obama.
“Looks like Bernie Sanders is history,” Trump’s tweet began, referencing the openly socialist 2016 runner-up, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). “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!”
Looks like Bernie Sanders is history. 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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 20, 2019
Sanders has indeed sunk far beneath Joe Biden in the polls. According to the RealClearPolitics polling average, Biden enjoys 38.3 percent support while Sanders falls far behind at 18.8 percent. Behind them come Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) at 8.5 percent, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) at 7.3 percent, and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg at 7 percent.
Yet polls this early mean little. The first votes will not be cast for another eight months. Biden could crash and burn, and Sanders could rise. Trump’s declaration that Sanders is history is extremely premature.
However, his analysis of Biden is much more interesting. Trump claimed that he became president “because of Sleepy Joe and the man who took him off the 1% trash heap, President O!”
To some degree, Trump’s victory in 2016 did represent a rejection of the Democratic continuation of Obama’s legacy. Yet the deep unpopularity of Hillary Clinton in particular was likely the larger driving factor. Despite Obama’s many scandals and his return to politics in the 2018 election, the former president enjoys high popularity. However, Biden enjoys a strong lead — especially among African Americans — because he was Obama’s vice president. Trump is correct that Obama made Biden the powerful force he is today, and to the extent that Trump was a rejection of Obama’s legacy, Biden will struggle to beat Trump.
The strongest attack in Trump’s tweet involved China. During the Obama administration, Biden took the lead on China policy, and he was widely criticized for not condemning China over its military islands in the South China Sea. Indeed, the close relatives of Biden and then-Secretary of State John Kerry — Biden’s son Hunter and Kerry’s stepson Chris Heinz — profited from the Obama administration’s soft policy towards China.
This corruption should become a serious issue for Biden’s campaign, and Trump’s tweet rightly brought up the China issue.
While Trump was unwise to count Sanders out just yet, his condemnation of Biden as China’s pick is quite warranted, and it opened the door for other Democrats to seize on the Biden corruption scandals. Biden’s lead is far from assured, and this corruption should seriously weaken his bid.
Follow Tyler O’Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.