Trump blasts Biden as he hits 2020 trail

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump: 'I will not let Iran have nuclear weapons' Rocket attack hits Baghdad's Green Zone amid escalating tensions: reports Buttigieg on Trump tweets: 'I don't care' MORE on Monday lashed out at former Vice President Joe BidenJoe Robinette BidenButtigieg on Trump tweets: 'I don't care' Buttigieg: The future 'is personal' for me Donald Trump, president for life? We need term limits now MORE, ahead of the Democratic candidate hitting the campaign trail for the first time since entering the 2020 presidential race.

In a string of tweets, Trump vented his frustration that Biden scored the endorsement of a major firefighters union, knocked him for staging his first campaign rally in Pennsylvania and slammed the news media for focusing on a candidate Trump sees as a relic of the past.

The flurry of attacks suggest Trump views Biden as a formidable general-election opponent who could gain support from white, working-class voters in states Trump won in 2016, including Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin.

ADVERTISEMENT

Rank-and-file union workers “love Trump,” the president argued, because of his administration's record on the economy. But he said “Dues Crazy union leadership” who “rip-off their membership with ridiculously high dues, medical and other expenses” throw their support behind Democrats.

“I'm sick of this President badmouthing unions,” Biden responded later in a tweet. “Labor built the middle class in this country. Minimum wage, overtime pay, the 40-hour week: they exist for all of us because unions fought for those rights. We need a President who honors them and their work.”

Biden on Monday won the backing of the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), the first major labor group to endorse a 2020 candidate, giving him a boost as he prepares to stage his opening campaign rally in Pittsburgh later in the day.

“The Dues Sucking firefighters leadership will always support Democrats, even though the membership wants me. Some things never change!” Trump tweeted.

The IAFF did not endorse Democratic presidential nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonDe Blasio pitches himself as tough New Yorker who can take on 'Don the con' From dive bars to steakhouses: How Iowa caucus staffers blow off steam Warren policy ideas show signs of paying off MORE in 2016, abandoning their past practice of supporting the party’s presidential nominees. The decision was seen as a harbinger of Democrats’ struggles with white, working-class voters that helped propel Trump to the White House.

As Biden prepared to travel to the Keystone State, Trump suggested the economy would help keep the state in the Republican column next year.

ADVERTISEMENT

“Sleepy Joe Biden is having his first rally in the Great State of Pennsylvania. He obviously doesn’t know that Pennsylvania is having one of the best economic years in its history, with lowest unemployment EVER, a now thriving Steel Industry (that was dead) & great future!” Trump tweeted.

But there is evidence Trump may struggle to duplicate his success there in 2020.

Three in five registered voters in Pennsylvania said it is time for a change in the White House, while 1 in 3 said Trump has done a good enough job to win reelection, according to a Franklin & Marshall College poll released last month.

Other polls indicate Biden would be Trump’s toughest general-election opponent if he can win his party’s nomination. The latest Hill-HarrisX survey found Biden leading Trump by 6 percentage points among registered voters nationwide who were polled.

Trump has repeatedly criticized Biden in an apparent effort to weaken his standing in the crowded Democratic primary field

The 72-year-old president last week described himself as a “young, vibrant man,” especially compared to Biden, 76.

“I look at Joe, I don't know about him,” Trump told a reporter who asked if age is a factor in the race. “I would never say anyone is too old. But they are all making me look very young, both in terms of age and in terms of energy.”

He also questioned Biden’s intelligence in an interview Thursday with Fox News host Sean HannitySean Patrick Hannity Winter is here: How 'Game of Thrones' took over American politics MSNBC host: Barr 'the most dangerous person' who works for Trump 'SleepyCreepy Joe' and 'Crazy Bernie': Trump seeks to define 2020 Dems with insults MORE, saying he refers to the former vice president as “Sleepy Joe” because “I’ve known him for a while and he’s a pretty sleepy guy.”

Trump added that Biden would not have the capacity to deal with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

“That's a different level of energy and, frankly, intelligence,” Trump said.

Biden took direct aim at Trump last week when he launched his presidential campaign with a video criticizing the president’s response to the deadly 2017 white supremacist march in Charlottesville, Va.

“If we give Donald Trump eight years in the White House, he will forever and fundamentally alter the character of this nation — who we are — and I cannot stand by and watch that happen,” Biden said in the video.

—Updated at 12:25 p.m.