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Biden no longer shy about singling out ‘former guy’ Trump

By SEUNG MIN KIM, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — A month into his presidency, Joe Biden has made clear his disgust at even naming the man he ousted from the Oval Office, saying, “I’m sick of talking about Trump.”

“For the next four years, I want to make sure all the news is the American people,” he said in a CNN town hall.

But now Biden is eagerly naming and singling out the former “old guy” in prepared remarks and on social media, elevating Donald Trump in a way Biden and White House aides haven’t done in the past. first 18 months of his mandate.

Virtually addressing a group of black law enforcement officials last week, Biden accused the former president of stoking a “medieval hell” for police officers who fought off Jan. 6 rioters, adding that “Donald Trump lacked the courage to act.”

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Biden’s Twitter feed repeated those words – a shocking sight for a White House that has tried to erase any reference to the former president and, in particular, his name.

And when Biden emerged from solitary confinement after a bout with COVID-19, he pointedly noted that he could continue to work from the White House residence while Trump had to be airlifted to hospital for treatment. after his own diagnosis, at a time when vaccines were not available and the then-president took a cavalier approach to mitigation measures.

For some Democrats, Biden’s willingness to engage directly with Trump was overdue.

“It’s like Lord Voldemort, isn’t it?” You gotta say his name and show you’re not afraid of him,” said Rep. Jamaal Bowman, DN.Y. “It’s good to see the President nominating Donald Trump, as we all should.”

Biden’s increasingly combative posture comes as a flood of revelations pours in on Trump and his conduct during the Capitol riot on January 6, 2021, and amid growing speculation that the Republican will launch a bid to back this fall.

Despite Biden’s dwindling approval ratings, even among members of his own party, he still shores the vast majority of Democratic voters behind him when touted as the party’s pick against Trump in a hypothetical 2024 campaign.

Biden’s first major effort to focus on Trump came on January 6, 2022, when he delivered a speech on the one-year anniversary of the riot. Biden condemned his predecessor for holding a “dagger to democracy’s throat” by repeatedly spreading refuted lies that Trump did not lose in 2020.

But even then, Biden refused to call Trump by name, prompting to wonder why.

“I didn’t want to make it a contemporary political battle between me and the president,” Biden explained after his remarks on Capitol Hill. “It’s way beyond that.”

Other Democrats say Biden, who campaigned to unify a partisan-torn country, was right to take the spotlight away from Trump at a time when Democrats had regained control of Washington for the first time in a decade and were about to embark on an ambitious program. and spend chaotic Trump years.

Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., said he, too, struggled to focus on the former president once Trump left office.

“I think a lot of us were just hoping he would go away and if we stopped talking about him, everyone would stop talking about him,” he said. “But that’s not how it happened. He’s running for president and he’s still leading the Republican Party, and I don’t think we can opt out anymore.

Last week, Biden left no doubt that he was ready — perhaps even willing — to directly challenge Trump in a way he had never done before.

In pre-recorded remarks at the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives’ annual conference, Biden made repeated references to the ‘defeated’ former president doing nothing as law enforcement worked for hours to protect the Capitol as lawmakers gathered to certify Biden’s victory.

“The police were heroes that day. Donald Trump didn’t have the guts to act,” Biden said in his remarks. “The brave women and men in blue across the country should never forget that.”

Biden’s Twitter feeds amplified those words and promoted his repeated references to Trump. A tweet a day later noted that the “ex-president” opposes limiting “military-style weapons” which Biden says should be banned.

On Wednesday, Biden’s release from solitary confinement and his celebratory remarks at the Rose Garden offered him another chance to invoke Trump and their differences on a separate issue.

“When my predecessor contracted COVID, he had to be airlifted to Walter Reed Medical Center. He was seriously ill. Luckily he recovered,” Biden said. “When I had COVID, I was working upstairs in the White House.” Biden stressed that the vaccines, home tests and antiviral treatments he received during his recovery were readily available to the American public.

White House aides believe those two topics — law and order and pandemic management — are among the areas where Biden can draw the strongest contrast to the previous administration. Biden himself has made no secret of his hunger to run against Trump again, recently telling an Israeli TV station that he “wouldn’t be disappointed” in a possible rematch.

As for the former president, Biden’s tweets and comments have not appeared in recent conversations among Trump advisers, according to two people familiar with the talks who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the private discussions.

“Joe Biden and the Democrats are destroying America, just as President Trump predicted,” Trump spokesman Taylor Budowich said. Americans. His interns should stop writing lame Tweets and start writing a resignation letter.”

Biden’s new, more divisive stance is another way the White House is trying to draw a clearer contrast with Republicans ahead of the November election, as Democrats are battered by the traditional headwinds facing the party. incumbent and face voter dissatisfaction with inflation and general direction. from the country.

Republicans are skeptical of the strategy’s effectiveness, even as Trump flirts with formally announcing a 2024 candidacy ahead of the fall vote. They also fear his candidacy could distract from GOP efforts to make the election a referendum on Democratic management of Washington.

“I get it. If I was blamed for 9.1% inflation, a shaky economy and disarray on the southern border, I would probably try to change the subject too,” the official said. Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate.

Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, said Biden’s largely tempered public persona and cautious tendencies are what made him attractive to a wide range of voters.

“But I think he comes to the same conclusion as the majority of the country, which is that the former president attempted a coup,” Schatz said. “Although President Biden tries to avoid inflammatory rhetoric, I think he found there was no other way to say it.”

Associated Press writer Jill Colvin in New York contributed to this report.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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