'SleepyCreepy Joe' and 'Crazy Bernie': Trump seeks to define 2020 Dems with insults

'SleepyCreepy Joe' and 'Crazy Bernie': Trump seeks to define 2020 Dems with insults
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As the Democratic presidential primary heats up, President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump says inviting Russia to G7 'a question of common sense' Pentagon chief does not support invoking Insurrection Act Dershowitz: Does President Trump have power to declare martial law? MORE has renewed his go-to campaign tactic of labeling his opponents with derogatory nicknames and targeting challengers with personal attacks.

Trump effectively dispatched a crowded field of Republican primary contenders in 2016, leaning on nicknames and insults like “Low Energy Jeb [Bush]” and “Lyin’ Ted [Cruz]” to belittle his opponents. 


With 24 Democratic candidates now in the race, the president has already targeted members of the primary field, slapping nicknames on several high-profile candidates as he tries to weaken his eventual general election competitor.

Here’s what Trump has said about some of the Democrats running for president.

Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenPoll: Majority 'sympathetic' to protesters, disapprove of Trump's response In a year like no other, we'll hold the election of our lifetime The Hill's Morning Report - Protesters' defiance met with calls to listen MORE

Biden, who Trump reportedly views as one of his biggest challengers among the current Democratic candidates, has repeatedly drawn Trump’s ire both at rallies and over social media, garnering the nickname “SleepyCreepy Joe.”

“Looks to me like it’s going to be SleepyCreepy Joe over Crazy Bernie. Everyone else is fading fast!” Trump tweeted, referring to Biden and Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersBiden wins DC primary Biden wins Montana primary Biden wins New Mexico primary MORE (I-Vt.).

Trump had long referred to Biden as “Sleepy Joe” but added “Creepy” after several women alleged that the former vice president inappropriately touched them and made them feel uncomfortable.

The president last month made an offhand remark about rhyming the nickname.

“I thought to refer to him as Sleepy Joe, because a lot of people wanted me to take the word ‘sleepy’ to something that rhymes with it. Does that make sense to you? And I thought it was too nasty,” he told Fox News host Sean HannitySean Patrick HannityCable news audience numbers jump amid coronavirus, protests Hannity scolds Ozarks partygoers: 'Could be a disaster' for vulnerable Americans Trump lashes out at Fox News after poll shows him trailing Biden MORE.

Trump and Biden have long feuded since the former vice president said last year that he would have "beat the hell out" of the president if they had gone to high school together, following comments the president made about women.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)

Trump has dubbed Sanders “Crazy Bernie,” and often cites the self-proclaimed Democratic Socialist’s policies in his criticism of the Vermont senator.

“Bernie’s crazy. But Bernie’s got a lot more energy than Biden, so you never know,” Trump said at an event this month. “Bernie’s got a lot of energy but it’s energy to get rid of your jobs.”

Sanders continues to rank near the top of national and statewide primary polls, but has recently found himself behind Biden since the former vice president launched his campaign last month.

Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenThe Hill's Morning Report - Protesters' defiance met with calls to listen Biden wins DC primary Warren asks Pentagon IG to probe military role in Trump's protest response MORE (D-Mass.)

Warren has emerged as one of Trump’s most popular targets of ridicule, receiving the derogatory nickname “Pocahontas” over her controversial past claims of Native American ancestry.

“Today Elizabeth Warren, sometimes referred to by me as Pocahontas, joined the race for President. Will she run as our first Native American presidential candidate, or has she decided that after 32 years, this is not playing so well anymore? See you on the campaign TRAIL, Liz!” Trump tweeted shortly after Warren officially launched her presidential bid.

Indigenous groups have slammed Trump over the nickname, saying it amounts to a slur.

“The name becomes a derogatory racial reference when used as an insult. American Indian names, whether they be historic or contemporary, are not meant to be used as insults. To do so is to reduce them to racial slurs,” the Alliance of Colonial Era Tribes said in a statement last year.

Warren has emerged as a vocal detractor of Trump’s policies, sometimes pivoting from his insults to criticize the White House.

“Hey, @realDonaldTrump: While you obsess over my genes, your Admin is conducting DNA tests on little kids because you ripped them from their mamas & you are too incompetent to reunite them in time to meet a court order. Maybe you should focus on fixing the lives you're destroying,” she tweeted last year, referring to Trump’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy that led to family separations at the border.

South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegBiden hopes to pick VP by Aug. 1 It's as if a Trump operative infiltrated the Democratic primary process Here's how Biden can win over the minority vote and the Rust Belt MORE

Trump just recently started mocking the South Bend, Ind. mayor, focusing on his difficult-to-pronounce name and lack of national political experience.

"We have a young man, Buttigieg," Trump said this month at a Florida campaign rally. "Boot-edge-edge. They say 'edge-edge.'"

"He’s got a great chance. He’ll be great. He’ll be great representing us against President Xi of China," he continued. "That’ll be great."

"You can't get too worried about the name calling and the games he plays," Buttigieg responded the next day. "I was thinking of a Chinese proverb that goes, 'when the wind changes, some people build walls and some people build windmills.'"

Trump also compared Buttigieg to Alfred E. Neuman, the gap-toothed, red-haired and big-eared boy who has appeared on the cover of Mad magazine for decades.

"Alfred E. Neuman cannot become president of the United States," the president said in an interview with Politico.

Buttigieg, 37, shrugged off the nickname, saying “he had to google” it and that it was a “generational thing.”

Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas)

Trump's criticism of the former El Paso congressman has primarily focused on O'Rourke's February rally that rivaled one of his own the same night in the border town. 

“A young man who's got very little going for himself except he's got a great first name. He challenged us. We have, say, 35,000 people tonight, and he has, say, 200 people, 300 people," Trump said shortly after the rallies. "Not too good. In fact what I would do, that may be the end of his presidential bid."

Trump revived the criticism this month at a campaign rally.

“I went to Texas and I made a speech, and Beto, Beto, boy has he fallen like a rock," Trump said at the Florida rally. "What the hell happened to Beto?”

“His crowd was not massive, he had like 502 people according to the people who count crowds,” the president added.

Trump also slammed O’Rourke during the 2018 midterm elections when O’Rourke ran to unseat Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzGOP senators dodge on treatment of White House protesters Houston police chief responds to Trump advice on protests: 'Keep your mouth shut' Trump's vow to deploy military faces GOP pushback MORE (R-Texas). 

“Beto O’Rourke is a total lightweight compared to Ted Cruz, and he comes nowhere near representing the values and desires of the people of the Great State of Texas. He will never be allowed to turn Texas into Venezuela!” he tweeted. 

Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisThe Hill's Morning Report - Protesters' defiance met with calls to listen Calls for police reform sparks divisions in Congress Harris: Trump 'just tear-gassed peaceful protesters for a photo op' MORE (D-Calif.)

Trump bashed Harris as “nasty” following her harsh questioning of Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrTrump shifting after threat to deploy troops: report The Hill's Morning Report - Protesters' defiance met with calls to listen GOP senators dodge on treatment of White House protesters MORE when he appeared in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“She was probably very nasty,” the president said of Harris on Fox Business, adding that other presidential candidates on the committee were hard on Barr to score “political points.”

Harris shot back the next day that she was simply trying to “pursue justice.”

“We have a president of the United States whose primary interest I think that has been clear as a result of what we know as a result of the Mueller report, his primary interest has been to obstruct justice," Harris said on CNN. "My primary interest is to pursue justice. You can call that whatever name you want, but I think that's what the American people want in a leader.”

Harris's campaign also fundraised off the comments, blasting Trump's "gendered" attack on the senator.

Trump had said a few days prior that Harris has “a little bit of a nasty wit, but that might be it,” when Sean Hannity asked him of his thoughts on the California Democrat.

It was reported earlier this year that Trump and his daughter, Ivanka, had both donated to Harris's California attorney general campaigns in 2011, 2013 and 2014.

Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerCalls for police reform sparks divisions in Congress Schumer calls on McConnell to schedule vote on law enforcement reform bill before July 4 This week: Senate reconvenes as protests roil nation amid pandemic MORE (D-N.J.)

Trump has not commented frequently about Booker, but suggested in 2016 that he had personal dirt on the New Jersey Democrat. 

“If Cory Booker is the future of the Democratic Party, they have no future! I know more about Cory than he knows about himself,” he tweeted in July 2016.

Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandSenate Dems press DOJ over coronavirus safety precautions in juvenile detention centers Senate Democrat introduces bill to protect food supply It's as if a Trump operative infiltrated the Democratic primary process MORE (D-N.Y.)

Trump slammed his home state senator in 2017, saying she used to come to his office “begging” for donations.

“Lightweight Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a total flunky for Chuck SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerMcConnell blocks resolution condemning Trump over treatment of protesters House Democrat demands answers from Secret Service about role breaking up White House protests Pelosi, Schumer say treatment of protesters outside White House 'dishonors every value that faith teaches us' MORE and someone who would come to my office “begging” for campaign contributions not so long ago (and would do anything for them), is now in the ring fighting against Trump. Very disloyal to Bill & Crooked-USED!” he tweeted.

Gillibrand fired back the next day, slamming the smear as “sexist.”

"It was certainly just a sexist smear intended to silence me," she said during an interview with NBC's "Today Show." "And I'm not going to be silenced on this issue. I have heard the testimony of many women, numerous accusers. I believe them and he should resign for that." 

Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharWebb: The modern age of dissent versus riot Bottom line Judd Gregg: Biden — a path to the presidency, or not MORE (D-Minn.)

Trump has not focused much of his ire on Klobuchar, but use her campaign launch, which coincided with a Minnesota blizzard, to knock both global warming and the senator.

“Well, it happened again. Amy Klobuchar announced that she is running for President, talking proudly of fighting global warming while standing in a virtual blizzard of snow, ice and freezing temperatures. Bad timing. By the end of her speech she looked like a Snowman(woman)!” he tweeted in February.

New York City Mayor Bill de BlasioBill de BlasioWatch live: De Blasio holds press conference on NYC protests, pandemic response The Hill's Morning Report - Protesters' defiance met with calls to listen Trump, Biden battle to shape opinion on scenes of unrest MORE

De Blasio just launched his campaign Thursday morning, but swiftly was labeled a “JOKE” by Trump. 

“The Dems are getting another beauty to join their group. Bill de Blasio of NYC, considered the worst mayor in the U.S., will supposedly be making an announcement for president today. He is a JOKE, but if you like high taxes & crime, he’s your man. NYC HATES HIM!” Trump tweeted.

De Blasio launched his campaign with a stinging broadside of Trump, calling the president a “con.”

“Right now, the federal government is not on the side of working people. And that’s because Donald Trump is playing a big con on America,” de Blasio said on “Good Morning America.”

“I call him Con Don. Every New Yorker knows he’s a con artist. We know his tricks. We know his playbook,” de Blasio continued. “I know how to take him on — I’ve been watching him for decades. He’s trying to convince working Americans he’s on their side. It’s been a lie from day one.” 

President Trump has so far refrained from individually jabbing Sen. Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetWarren condemns 'horrific' Trump tweet on Minneapolis protests, other senators chime in Senate Democrat introduces bill to protect food supply Congress headed toward unemployment showdown MORE (D-Colo.), Gov. Steve BullockSteve BullockGianforte wins Montana gubernatorial primary Daines wins GOP Senate primary in Montana Bullock wins Senate primary in Montana MORE (D-Mont.), former San Antonio Mayor and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro, former Rep. John DelaneyJohn DelaneyThe Hill's Coronavirus Report: Johns Hopkins's Jennifer Nuzzo says America needs public health crisis insurance to pay for COVID-19 victims; Protests, pandemic continue to ravage America The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Former Rep. Delaney says Trump is spewing venom when he should be leading; Protests roil the nation as fears of new virus outbreaks grow Coronavirus Report: The Hill's Steve Clemons interviews John Delaney MORE (D-Md.), Rep. Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardGabbard drops defamation lawsuit against Clinton It's as if a Trump operative infiltrated the Democratic primary process 125 lawmakers urge Trump administration to support National Guard troops amid pandemic MORE (D-Hawaii), former Sen. Mike Gravel (D-Alaska), former Gov. John HickenlooperJohn HickenlooperThe 10 Senate seats most likely to flip OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Coal company sues EPA over power plant pollution regulation | Automakers fight effort to freeze fuel efficiency standards | EPA watchdog may probe agency's response to California water issues McConnell gives two vulnerable senators a boost with vote on outdoor recreation bill MORE (D-Colo.), Gov. Jay InsleeJay Robert InsleeMillions of Americans frustrated by delayed unemployment checks Trump rule limits states from blocking pipeline projects Inslee says Trump coronavirus response akin to if FDR called Pearl Harbor 'a hoax' MORE (D-Wash.), Miramar, Fla. Mayor Wayne MessamWayne Martin MessamKey moments in the 2020 Democratic presidential race so far Wayne Messam suspends Democratic presidential campaign 2020 primary debate guide: Everything you need to know ahead of the November forum MORE (D), Rep. Seth MoultonSeth MoultonOvernight Defense: Trump's move to use military in US sparks backlash | Defense officials take heat | Air Force head calls Floyd's death 'a national tragedy' Democrats blast Trump's use of military against protests The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Debruyne Says Global Response Platform Needed; Navarro Saw It Coming MORE (D-Mass.), Rep. Tim RyanTimothy (Tim) RyanCongress must fill the leadership void Pelosi pushes to unite party on coronavirus bill despite grumbling from left Democrats rally behind monthly ,000 relief checks MORE (D-Ohio), Rep. Eric SwalwellEric Michael SwalwellGloves come off as Democrats fight for House seat in California Grenell says intelligence community working to declassify Flynn-Kislyak transcripts The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump visits a ventilator plant in a battleground state MORE (D-Calif.), author Marianne WilliamsonMarianne WilliamsonMarianne Williamson touts endorsements for progressive congressional candidates The Hill's 12:30 Report: Warren becomes latest 2020 rival to back Biden The Hill's Campaign Report: Biden looks to stretch lead in Tuesday contests MORE and entrepreneur Andrew YangAndrew YangAndrew Yang discusses his universal basic income pilot program Andrew Yang on the George Floyd protests in Minneapolis McConnell challenger on how Yang endorsement could help him MORE.