Biden is Democrat feared by GOP

Biden is Democrat feared by GOP
© Getty Images

One Democrat keeps emerging as the candidate Republicans are worried about most in 2020: Joe BidenJoe BidenAre Democrats turning Trump-like? Volatile presidential polls spark new round of anxieties British Bookmaker: Warren has replaced Biden as Democratic primary favorite MORE.

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 John TrumpTrump watching 'very closely' as Portland braces for dueling protests WaPo calls Trump admin 'another threat' to endangered species Are Democrats turning Trump-like? MORE in a general election.

ADVERTISEMENT

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 Ann WarrenAre Democrats turning Trump-like? Manufacturing shrinks, raising questions for Trump Volatile presidential polls spark new round of anxieties MORE (D-Mass.) and Bernie SandersBernie SandersVolatile presidential polls spark new round of anxieties GOP memo deflects some gun questions to 'violence from the left' British Bookmaker: Warren has replaced Biden as Democratic primary favorite 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 CarsonBenjamin (Ben) Solomon CarsonCarson's affordable housing idea drawing undue flak Overnight Energy: Trump EPA looks to change air pollution permit process | GOP senators propose easing Obama water rule | Green group sues EPA over lead dust rules Green group sues EPA over lead dust rules it says are too lax 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 FrelinghuysenThe 31 Trump districts that will determine the next House majority Top House GOP appropriations staffer moves to lobbying shop Individuals with significant disabilities need hope and action 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 ObamaForget conventional wisdom — Bernie Sanders is electable 2020 Democrats fight to claim Obama's mantle on health care Obama shares summer reading list 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 Biden 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.”