Seldom has Donald Trump paid a real price for ridiculing anyone he sees as a political threat, or for that matter, anyone he doesn’t particularly like. Running a long-shot campaign in 2016, Trump taunted the then–Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly (“There was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever”); demeaned Khizr and Ghazala Khan, the parents of a soldier killed in Iraq; and insulted the war hero John McCain for getting shot down in Vietnam (“I like people that weren’t captured”). None of it stopped him from becoming president.
Former Vice President Joe Biden is only a few days into his 2020 presidential bid, and already Trump is road testing various lines of attack. For now, he has settled on “Sleepy Joe,” though advisers say Trump is still casting about for the artfully emasculating nickname that felled his erstwhile Republican rival Jeb Bush, he of “low energy.”
When Biden’s name would come up in White House meetings early in Trump’s term, the president “would be totally dismissive of him,” former White House strategist and Trump campaign CEO Steve Bannon told me. “Trump will bench-press Biden on the debate stage if it ever gets to that.”