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 BidenTrump says he doesn't want NYT in the White House Warren to protest with striking Chicago teachers Schiff punches back after GOP censure resolution fails 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 says he doesn't want NYT in the White House Veterans group backs lawsuits to halt Trump's use of military funding for border wall Schiff punches back after GOP censure resolution fails 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 WarrenWarren to protest with striking Chicago teachers Overnight Health Care — Presented by Partnership for America's Health Care Future — Four companies reach 0M settlement in opioid lawsuit | Deal opens door to larger settlements | House panel to consider vaping tax | Drug pricing markup tomorrow On The Money: Trump dismisses 'phony Emoluments Clause' after Doral criticism | Senate Dems signal support for domestic spending package | House panel to consider vaping tax MORE (D-Mass.) and Bernie SandersBernie SandersWarren to protest with striking Chicago teachers Sanders: 'Outrageous' to suggest Gabbard 'is a foreign asset' Democratic strategist: Sanders seeking distance from Warren could 'backfire' 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 CarsonTrump officials say aid to Puerto Rico was knowingly stalled after Hurricane Maria Yes, President Trump, we do have a homelessness crisis and you're making it harder for us to address New HUD rule would eliminate housing stability for thousands of students 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 ObamaUK judge denies Assange bid to delay extradition hearing Trump's eye-opening scorecard on border security Why Americans should look at the Middle East through the eyes of its youth 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.”