Biden and Trump attack each other in a possible 2020 preview

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Biden and Trump attack each other in a possible 2020 preview

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President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden repeatedly laid into each other while traveling in the battleground state of Iowa, unleashing verbal attacks that at times felt more appropriate for the final weeks before Election Day than a lazy summer about 17 months before voters go to the polls.

The back-and-forth on Tuesday laid bare the rising political stakes for each man. Trump has zeroed in on Biden as a threat to his reelection chances and is testing themes to keep him at bay. Biden, meanwhile, is campaigning as a front-runner with near-universal name recognition , relishing the fight with Trump while trying to ensure he doesn’t ignore the demands of the crowded Democratic primary.

“People don’t respect him,” Trump said of Biden after touring a renewable energy facility in Council Bluffs. “Even the people that he’s running against, they’re saying: ‘Where is he? What happened?’”

With a dose of exaggeration, the Republican president added: “He makes his stance in Iowa once every two weeks and then he mentions my name 74 times in one speech. I don’t know. That reminds me of Crooked Hillary. She did the same thing.” He went on to muse that standing for nothing but opposing his policies was the reason Clinton lost.

At almost the same moment in Mount Pleasant, Biden noted that his staff told him Trump was watching footage of his criticism of the president from early in the day as Air Force One landed in Iowa.

“I guess he’s really fascinated by me,” Biden said. “I find it fascinating.” He started to say more but then stopped himself, quipping: “My mother would say: ‘Joey, focus. Don’t descend. Stay up.’”

Speaking Tuesday evening in Davenport, Biden suggested Trump was an “existential threat to America” and said voters must stop the president’s attempts to elevate his office beyond its traditional limits of power. He said Trump is “breaking down the barriers that constrain his power” and mockingly accused him of believing that he has “complete power.”

“No, you don’t, Donald Trump,” Biden cried, drawing cheers from a crowd of around 500 at the Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds.

Biden is campaigning again in Iowa on Wednesday, this time without Trump in the state.

For his part, Trump has insisted that Biden is the candidate he wants to face in 2020.

“I’d rather run against Biden than anybody,” Trump told reporters on the White House lawn before flying to Iowa. “I think he’s the weakest mentally, and I like running against people that are weak mentally.”