President Trump said recently that he'd love to run against Joe Biden in 2020, because he thinks he'd be the easiest Democrat to beat. But Axios reported on Wednesday that in fact, the exact opposite is true: Trump deeply fears a Biden 2020 presidential campaign, according to Axios, as he thinks the former vice president is Democrats' most formidable opponent. Bustle has reached out to the White House for comment on the report.
"I dream about Biden," Trump told CBS in July. "That's a dream. Look, Joe Biden ran three times. He never got more than 1 percent, and President Obama took him out of the garbage heap, and everybody was shocked that he did. I'd love to have [the 2020 Democratic nominee] be Biden."
And yet according to Axios, Trump actually thinks that Biden poses the greatest threat to his reelection campaign. Advisers to the president tell Axios that Biden — with his working class roots, natural charisma and ability to work a crowd — could get under Trump's skin in a way that, say, Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren wouldn't.
The president is especially concerned that Biden could defeat him in Pennsylvania, according to Axios. As he often mentions in speeches, Biden grew up in the city of Scranton, and Trump's advisers fear Biden's blue-collar, working-man image could threaten Trump in Pennsylvania and other blue-leaning midwest states that Trump narrowly won in 2016 — namely Michigan and Wisconsin.
Biden, who run for president twice before serving as Barack Obama's deputy, has sent mixed messages regarding his 2020 intentions, at various points explicitly confirming ("I'm going to run in 2020") and explicitly denying ("Guys, I'm not running") that he'll throw his hat in the ring against Trump. Most recently, Biden said he hasn't decided one way or another on a 2020 run.
If he does go for it, however, early polling suggests that he's well-positioned: In a June poll, 32 percent of registered Democrats said they'd support Biden for the party's presidential nomination in 2020, putting him ahead of Sanders, Warren, and every other potential Democratic candidate polled. Moreover, a general election survey from mid-June found that Biden would defeat Trump by a whopping 14 points in a general election matchup. (It's worth noting that this same poll showed Trump losing to every Democratic opponent in the survey, including Sanders, Warren, Cory Booker, Kirstin Gillibrand and Kamala Harris).
Regardless of whether Biden enters the ring in 2020, one thing is clear: He and Trump don't like each other one bit. In March, Biden said that if he and Trump "were in high school, I’d take him behind the gym and beat the hell out of him." Trump fired back on Twitter, saying Biden would "go down fast and hard" if the two were to fight each other physically.
Biden ran for president in 1988 and 2008, but failed to pick up traction both times. He reportedly came very close to running in 2016 as well, but opted not to after the unexpected death of his son. Since then, he's argued that he could have won in the presidency 2016 had he entered the race, though he acknowledged that it would have been very difficult to defat Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary.