One Democrat keeps emerging as the candidate Republicans are worried about most in 2020: Joe Biden.
Top Republican strategists and party operatives assessing the potential field of candidates say the former vice president is the Democrat likely to pose the biggest problem for President TrumpDonald TrumpJan. 6 panel faces double-edged sword with Alex Jones, Roger Stone Trump goes after Woodward, Costa over China Republicans seem set to win the midterms — unless they defeat themselves MORE in a general election.
Biden, who has not announced whether he will seek the White House for a third time, would have to win a crowded Democratic primary to get to the general, and that would be no easy task.
The Democratic Party has grown increasingly progressive, and Biden would risk being outflanked on the left by potential rivals such as Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenPoll: Harris, Michelle Obama lead for 2024 if Biden doesn't run Biden eyes new path for Fed despite Powell pick Equilibrium/Sustainability — Presented by Southern Company — Storms a growing danger for East Coast MORE (D-Mass.) and Bernie SandersBernie SandersPoll: Harris, Michelle Obama lead for 2024 if Biden doesn't run Bernie Sanders' ex-spokesperson apprehensive over effectiveness of SALT deductions BBB threatens the role of parents in raising — and educating — children MORE (I-Vt.).
But if he could overcome those hurdles, Republicans believe he could appeal to working class voters and liberals alike in a contest against Trump.
“He poses the biggest threat by far,” said Susan Del Percio, the Republican strategist, who contends that Warren and Sanders are too far to the left to defeat Trump in the general. “They're very left and the country is very middle.”
Del Percio also contends that many Democrats privately think the same thing: Biden is their best candidate.
“I speak to a lot of Democrats and a lot of people who I respect, say Biden is the best bet,” she said. “They feel like he’s the one who is unscripted and can take Trump on head on.”
Shermichael Singleton, another Republican strategist who served as a top aide to now-Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben CarsonBen CarsonRace is not central to Rittenhouse case — but the media shout it anyway Trump endorses primary challenger to Peter Meijer in Michigan Sunday shows preview: Frustration runs high as infrastructure talks hit setback MORE during his 2016 presidential run, said he can’t see anyone beating Trump except for Biden “because of his ability to connect with blue-collar and middle-class voters.”
“But outside of him, I'm not convinced Democrats have anyone,” Singleton said, adding that Democrats “risk running into the same mistakes Republicans had in 2016 by having a dozen candidates during the primary. It never ends well.”
At the Republican National Committee, which has close ties to Trump’s White House, Biden is one of five potential Democratic candidates who are being watched closely, according to sources there. America Rising, a GOP super PAC, also lists him among the top Democrats they are targeting.
The former vice president has led in early polls against other potential candidates. and polls show him ahead of Trump, too.
Last month, a Politico–Morning Consult poll revealed that 44 percent of registered voters choose Biden over Trump, who received the support of 37 percent.
Biden has been a widely sought surrogate in midterm election races, campaigning around the country for 2018 candidates in competitive races in red and blue states.
This month, for example, Biden stumped alongside Democrat Mikie Sherrill, who is campaigning in a tight race to replace Republican Rodney FrelinghuysenRodney Procter FrelinghuysenBottom line Republican lobbying firms riding high despite uncertainty of 2020 race Ex-Rep. Frelinghuysen joins law and lobby firm MORE in New Jersey’s 11th District. On Wednesday, he is scheduled to appear at a fundraiser for James Smith, who is running for governor in South Carolina.
And Democratic strategist David Wade — who worked for then-Sen. Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaStephen Sondheim, legendary Broadway songwriter, dies at 91 With extreme gerrymanders locking in, Biden needs to make democracy preservation job one Republicans seem set to win the midterms — unless they defeat themselves MORE’s (D-Ill.) presidential campaign in 2008 — maintains that Biden is the biggest threat because of his appeal across the party.
“You don’t have to be a mathematician to figure out that Trump only gets reelected if Democrats are divided or nominate someone who can’t withstand the vetting and intensity of the process,” Wade said. “Republicans fear a profile like Vice President BidenJoe BidenSouth Africa health minister calls travel bans over new COVID variant 'unjustified' Biden attends tree lighting ceremony after day out in Nantucket Senior US diplomat visiting Southeast Asia to 'reaffirm' relations MORE because they know he’s broadly popular in the party but also has crossover appeal beyond the Democratic base.”
The consolation to GOP strategists is that they can’t see how Democratic primary voters will elect the former vice president.
“There’s no way that today’s Democratic Party is going to pick Joe Biden to be their nominee,” said Michael Aherns, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee. “He’s already run and lost twice, and that was before Democrats started rushing to support a government takeover of health care and abolishing ICE.”
Republican strategist Carrie Sheffield pointed out that even though Biden would “bring the affection of Obama voters” and is “more plainspoken than most of his Democratic peers … he would be rife with openings for attack.”
“If Dems are trying to provide a study in contrasts to what they say is salty language by President Trump, then Biden is not the route to take,” Sheffield said. “President Trump is just more charismatic and a stronger fighter.”
But Del Percio — who says she would consider voting for Biden over Trump — said she thinks Biden is the only Democrat who truly understands how to beat Trump.
“He’s got fight in him, and he would throw Trump off more than anyone else,” she said. “And I’d rather have Biden than Donald Trump. I can honestly say that. He’s proven to be sensible and I can work with that.”