In what appears to be an escalating war of words, President Trump threatened Joe Biden on Twitter on Thursday morning after the former vice president said he would have beat up Trump in high school. The president and Biden have several times before talked about knocking each other around, but this marked the first time that their aggression moved to Twitter.
"Crazy Joe Biden is trying to act like a tough guy," Trump wrote. "Actually, he is weak, both mentally and physically, and yet he threatens me, for the second time, with physical assault. He doesn't know me, but he would go down fast and hard, crying all the way. Don't threaten people Joe!"
"Crazy Joe" might be Trump's new nickname for Biden, in the vein of habitual insults like "Lyin' Ted," "Crooked Hillary," and "Little Marco." He's previously called the Democrat "Sleepy Joe."
Trump was responding to comments Biden made at an anti-sexual assault rally on Tuesday. The former VP spoke to students at the University of Miami about changing the culture of sexual assault on college campuses, but he also added in a few threatening words toward the president. Referring to the Access Hollywood scandal in which Trump said he likes to non-consensually "grab" women "by the pussy," Biden remarked that he would've "beat the hell" out of him as an adolescent.
"A guy who ended up becoming our national leader said, 'I can grab a woman anywhere and she likes it,'" Biden said. "They asked me if I'd like to debate this gentleman, and I said 'no.' I said, 'If we were in high school, I'd take him behind the gym and beat the hell out of him.'"
Biden added: "I've been in a lot of locker rooms my whole life. I'm a pretty damn good athlete. Any guy that talked that way was usually the fattest, ugliest SOB in the room."
But Biden's comments on Tuesday were far from the first time he'd mentioned beating up Trump. Their feud began just after the Access Hollywood tape was released, when Biden said at a rally:
The press always ask me, don't I wish I were debating him? No, I wish we were in high school I could take him behind the gym — that's what I wish.
A few days later, Trump responded by saying he'd "love" to see that altercation take place. "Did you see where Biden wants to take me to the back of the barn? I'd love that," he said at a campaign rally. "You know when he's Mr. Tough Guy? When he's standing behind a microphone by himself."
He brought the idea back up later in the campaign, suggesting that Biden would be so easy to take down in a fight that he could blow him over with "just a little bit of a puff" of air.
Most recently, Trump brought up the rivalry again when addressing a Gridiron Club charity function. "There's talk about Joe Biden, Sleepy Joe, getting into the race," he began, in reference to the 2020 presidential election. "You know what he said, 'I want to take him behind the barn.' ... Just trust me, I would kick his ass. ... Boy, would he be easy. Oh, would he be easy."
Biden considered running for president in 2016, but ultimately declined to do so after the death of his son Beau. At the time, Trump tweeted that he was pleased by the news because he considered Hillary Clinton to be an easier candidate to beat — "I would rather run against Hillary because her record is so bad."
Biden may yet run in 2020. The 75-year-old has served the government in multiple capacities, most recently as vice president for eight years, and prior to that as Delaware's senator representing for 36 years, between 1973 and 2009. While in Congress, he chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee and Senate Foreign Relations Committee, among others.
While Biden is still seen as a top contender for the Democratic presidential bid, many believe that the party will opt for a candidate who leans further to the left.