Biden supporters are thrilled over his fight with Trump

Joe BidenJoseph (Joe) Robinette BidenCory Booker has a problem in 2020: Kamala Harris 2020 Dems ratchet up anti-corporate talk in bid to woo unions Resurfaced Buttigieg yearbook named him 'most likely to be president' MORE is voicing regret for suggesting he wanted to have a schoolyard fight with President TrumpDonald John TrumpThorny part of obstruction of justice is proving intent, that's a job for Congress Obama condemns attacks in Sri Lanka as 'an attack on humanity' Schiff rips Conway's 'display of alternative facts' on Russian election interference MORE, stark words that provoked the president and stoked the idea that the former vice president wants to challenge Trump in 2020.

“I shouldn’t have said what I said,” Biden told the "Pod Save America" podcast on Friday. “I shouldn’t have brought it up again because I don’t want to get down in the mosh pit with this guy.”

Trump responded in kind on Twitter Thursday, writing, “Crazy Joe Biden is trying to act like a tough guy. 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,” Trump continued in the tweet. “Don’t threaten people Joe!” 

A White House spokesman did not respond to a request for comment on the president’s tweet.

Biden allies say that Trump’s response is a political gift of sorts, and shows that Biden “unnerves the President,” as one Biden World source put it. 

It’s only heightened speculation that Biden, 75, is serious about challenging Trump.

The former vice president sat out the 2016 presidential race, and has heard supporters say he would have defeated Trump if he’d been in the running. Trump triumphed over Democrat Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonThorny part of obstruction of justice is proving intent, that's a job for Congress Nadler: I don't understand why Mueller didn't charge Donald Trump Jr., others in Trump Tower meeting Kellyanne Conway: Mueller didn't need to use the word 'exoneration' in report MORE by winning the states of Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin — states Biden sees as practically his political base.

Biden is still mulling a Trump challenge. 

He’s touring the country to promote his book “Promise Me, Dad.” He has also been campaigning for candidates including Conor Lamb, the Pennsylvania Democrat who won a special election for the House earlier this month. The Hill reported earlier this month that Biden is expected to do another 30 to 40 events for Democratic House candidates, as he is a significant draw across the country.

Sources close to the vice president say there was no strategy behind Biden’s initial comments and that he wasn't trying to provoke the president. 

Instead, they suggested Biden just can’t help himself.

“He’s still pretty disgusted by the 'Access Hollywood' comments,” said one source close to the former vice president, adding that his comments simply underscore an issue “he cares about and is passionate about.”

Biden noted that he’s made similar comments about a high school fight with Trump when he had been asked about Trump’s comments on the “Access Hollywood” tape. In both cases, he emphasized that he was speculating about a fight in high school and was not actually suggesting the two men, both in their 70s, physically fight.

“Now the idea that I would actually physically get in a contest with the president of the United States or anyone else is not what I said and it's not what this is about,” Biden said on the podcast before calling Trump's behavior “vulgar.”

Biden is just the latest potential 2020 Democratic candidate to have publicly feuded with Trump, following both Sens. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandCory Booker has a problem in 2020: Kamala Harris Booker to supporter who wanted him to punch Trump: 'Black guys like us, we don't get away with that' 2020 Dems ratchet up anti-corporate talk in bid to woo unions MORE (N.Y.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenTim Ryan doesn't back impeachment proceedings against Trump Schiff: Democrats 'may' take up impeachment proceedings Trump claims Democrats' plans to probe admin will cost them 'big time' in 2020 MORE (Mass.). 

In each case, a Trump insult or taunt was turned into a fundraiser pitch to Democrats eager to resist the president. 

“The fundraising email practically writes itself,” the Biden World source said. 

Even Republicans saw the comments as a positive for Biden. 

“He's the Democrats' best hope right now and he's showing he's not afraid to take on President Trump,” said Shermichael Singleton, a GOP strategist. 

Allies say the comments hint that Biden is anxious to jump into a race with Trump. 

“He still feels like he’s the one who can take him down,” one former aide said. “He thinks he’s the guy who could have done that in 2016 so we wouldn’t be in this mess.”

Brad Bannon, a Democratic strategist, said the squabble “works well” for Biden and elevates him over 2020 contenders.

“It reinforces his reputation for being outspoken, even though it gets him into trouble sometimes,” Bannon said. “Voters like politicians like Biden who say what they think without being politically correct. It worked for Trump in 2016. [Hillary Clinton] always sounded programmed so people didn't see her as authentic. That won’t be a problem for Joe.” 

Democratic strategist Eric Jotkoff, who worked for former President Obama’s campaign in 2012 and Clinton’s campaign in 2008, said Biden is doing what Democrats want to see their party leaders do: go on the offensive with Trump.

“He knows the way to take on a schoolyard bully is to call his bluff, which is exactly what he is doing here,” Jotkoff said. 

At the same time, one strategist warned that Biden is dangerously close to going over the line. “If he’s going to run, he needs to watch these kinds of moments closely,” the strategist said. 

The war of words also evoked a similar response from those in the media who cover politics. CNN anchor Jake Tapper pointed to the spat on Thursday and said neither man was setting a good example for his children.  

“This is not how leaders are supposed to talk,” he said.