Trump unleashes on 'failing' and 'slower than he used to be' Biden

President TrumpDonald John TrumpSarah Huckabee Sanders becomes Fox News contributor The US-Iranian scuffle over a ship is a sideshow to events in the Gulf South Korea: US, North Korea to resume nuclear talks 'soon' MORE on Tuesday lashed out at Joe BidenJoe BidenSarah Huckabee Sanders becomes Fox News contributor Poll shows Biden, Warren tied with Trump in Arizona Giuliani says he discussed Biden with Ukrainian official MORE ahead of both politicians’ trip to the early voting state of Iowa, saying he would rather run against the former vice president than any other 2020 Democrat because he is “mentally weak.”

Trump was responding to Biden, who was planning to call the president an “existential threat” to the country during a dueling appearance in the key battleground state.

“I’d rather run against, I think, Biden than anybody,” Trump told reporters as he left the White House for the Hawkeye State. “I think he’s the weakest mentally and I like running against people that are weak mentally … The other ones have much more energy."

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Trump’s stinging criticism, delivered in an impromptu 19-minute question-and-answer session, is the latest sign of how the president has zeroed in on Biden as the campaign season heats up, despite his insistence that he is not worried about the former vice president's presence in the race.

Biden leads his Democratic rivals in all national polls, and several other surveys have showed him ahead of Trump in Rust Belt states and other areas the president must win next year in order to be reelected.

The president pushed back on a New York Times report that he instructed his aides to deny internal polling that shows him trailing Biden in key states.

“My poll numbers are great,” he said, describing surveys that have him performing poorly in toss-up states as “fake polls.”

Trump, who will soon turn 73, cast the 76-year-old Biden as diminished by age and hobbled by his association with former President Obama, an effort to cast Biden as a Washington insider.

“Now, I have to tell you, he’s a different guy. He looks different than he used to. He acts different than he used to. He’s even slower than he used to be. I don’t know,” Trump said of Biden, in an apparent effort to fuel rumors about Biden’s health circulating in conservative media.

The Biden campaign this week dismissed those reports as “baseless lies meant to stoke fear in their viewers.”

Trump also hit Biden over his failed presidential runs in 1988 and 2008, calling him a “loser” who “never got more that 1 percent, except Obama took him off the trash heap” when he selected Biden as his running mate.

“I call him ‘1 percent Joe’ because, until Obama came along, he didn’t do very well,” Trump added.

The president also referenced some recent polls showing Biden’s Democratic rivals gaining on him.

“And now it looks like he’s failing. It looks like his friends from the left are going to overtake him pretty soon,” Trump said. “When a man has to mention my name 76 times in a speech, that means he’s in trouble.”

Biden plans to deliver a speech to supporters Tuesday accusing Trump of threatening “our core values,” democratic norms and America’s standing in the world, according to prepared remarks shared with The Hill. He also plans to hit Trump’s tariff threats toward Mexico and China and the president’s failure to address climate change.

Trump is expected to deliver remarks later in the day at a renewable energy facility and then at an Iowa Republican Party dinner.

Tuesday marks the first time this election cycle the two politicians will be in Iowa together.

--Updated at 1:55 p.m.