It was just the latest evidence that Biden is spoiling for a fight with Donald Trump. Whereas Barack Obama has maintained a zen-like calm even as his legacy is eviscerated, Biden has taken the gloves off, hammering the president’s policies and personal conduct, even suggesting that he would like to “beat the hell out of” Trump over his crude remarks about women.
But in 2020 he would be up against the most competitive and crowded Democratic field in many years. The point will be brought home on Tuesday, when the Center for American Progress in Washington hosts potential contenders including senators Cory Booker, Sherrod Brown, Kirsten Gillibrand, Amy Klobuchar, Chris Murphy, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, as well as the former housing secretary Julián Castro and New York mayor Bill de Blasio.
Bill Galston, a former policy adviser to Bill Clinton, said: “There are three lanes to look at. In lane one, there is ‘Bernie-lite’, which could be Bernie himself. In lane two, there are people who think, for a variety of reasons, that’s not the right way for the Democratic party to go and we ought to be 21st-century reformers.
“Lane three is the Biden lane. He’s really sui generis. If people are looking for a unifier and don’t want to shed internecine blood, the argument for Biden could be potent. On the other hand, he has always underperformed as a presidential candidate in the past.”