Biden’s full-throated attack on Trump seen as double-edged sword

Joe Biden took to Twitter Thursday to declare, “President Trump picked a fight with the wrong guy.”

That’s the same line the former vice president used a day earlier – to a rousing standing ovation – as Biden, for the first time, unequivocally called for the impeachment of Trump.

While the president has been front-and-center in the Ukraine controversy that sparked House Democrats to launch an impeachment inquiry into Trump, Biden’s another key player, and with the impeachment push overshadowing the 2020 White House race, the Democrat has grabbed outsized attention over his rivals for the presidential nomination.

BIDEN, WARREN, GAIN GROUND IN NEW FOX NEWS POLL

It’s a double-edged sword for the former vice president, with Trump’s allegations against Biden’s own Ukraine connection also in the spotlight.

Biden on Wednesday launched a forceful attack on the president – coming from a candidate who in recent weeks was anything but aggressive in calling for Trump’s impeachment, unlike most of his 2020 rivals.

“We all laughed when he said he could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot someone and get away with it. It’s no joke,” Biden emphasized during two speeches in New Hampshire. “He’s shooting holes in the Constitution, and we cannot let him get away with it.”

Biden’s announcement came one day after the White House vowed not to play ball with the House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry, but it also came as the former vice president lost his polling status as the unrivaled front-runner. Biden’s neck-and-neck with Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts for the top spot in most of the recent national and early-voting-state surveys, although he held a lead in the latest Fox News Poll.

FOR FIRST TIME, BIDEN CALLS FOR TRUMP IMPEACHMENT

And, Biden was left in the dust in the race for campaign cash, with both Warren and Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont each topping him by roughly $10 million in the July-September third quarter of fundraising.

With those setbacks in mind, the unveiling of the more aggressive, in-your-face approach by Biden has been seen as considerably timely.

“It gets his sea legs under him,” noted Larry Rasky, a longtime Biden friend, adviser and fundraiser. “It gives everybody more energy.”

Rasky, who’s not directly involved in Biden’s 2020 campaign, predicted, “it’s definitely going to help fundraising.”

He added that donors “are happy to see Biden taking on the fight with intensity.”

Biden, in his speeches, taunted the president, claiming “he’s afraid of just how badly I will beat him next November.”

Veteran Democratic consultant and communications strategist Lynda Tran noted that such swagger would resonate with voters. She also said the Ukraine controversy put the spotlight on foreign relations, a wheelhouse for the former vice president.

“His remarks yesterday came across as an ‘enough is enough’ call to action and reminder to the American electorate of the fighter and statesman they have long known,” said Tran, who ran communications for the Obama-era grassroots group Organizing for America and was a founding partner of the communications firm 270 Strategies.

The impeachment inquiry was sparked by Trump’s July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in which he asked Zelensky to investigate Biden and his son Hunter over their dealings in the eastern European country. Fueled by whistleblower complaints and a transcript of the call released by the White House, Democrats argued the president was asking a foreign country to interfere in a U.S. election.

Adding to the controversy was the fact that before that phone call, millions in U.S. military aid to Ukraine was put on hold. Despite allegations that Trump was using that money as leverage, Trump has insisted repeatedly that he did nothing wrong. He said there was no “quid pro quo” and on numerous occasions has described his conversation with the Ukrainian leader as “perfect.”

BIDEN CAMPAIGN SLAMS NY TIMES FOR OP-ED ON FORMER VP’S UKRAINE TIES

The president and allies instead have tried to put the spotlight on Biden and his son.

Hunter Biden served on the board of a Ukrainian energy company while his father was vice president. Trump and fellow Republicans have questioned how Biden pushed in 2016 for the dismissal of a Ukrainian prosecutor who was looking into corruption at the company. The prosecutor – who had faced widespread accusations of overlooking corruption in his own office – later was dismissed.

Biden, defending his actions in Ukraine, said, “there’s no truth to [Trump’s] charges and attacks against me and my son. Zero.”

Biden also accused the president of throwing “lies and distortions and smears” at him and his son, “because he thinks he’ll undermine my candidacy for the nomination as well as the presidency if I am the nominee.”

While the Fox News national poll released Wednesday indicated that a majority said the president should be impeached and removed from office, Biden has faced warning signs of his own.

MAJORITY BACK TRUMP IMPEACHMENT IN LATEST FOX NEWS POLL

Thirty-six percent questioned in the survey said they found the Trump allegations against Biden extremely or very troubling. That included 34 percent of independents and even 24 percent of Democrats.

Longtime Republican strategist Colin Reed highlighted that “the discussion involving Ukraine is going to involve a continued focus on why Hunter Biden was being paid $50,000 a month to sit on the board of an energy company with him having absolutely no expertise in that area.”

Reed emphasized, “I think that crony capitalism does not sit well with voters in the center, right or left.”

And, Biden’s increased criticism aimed at the president likely will incite further attacks from Trump.

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While the former vice president was speaking in New Hampshire, the president took to Twitter to return fire.

“So pathetic to see Sleepy Joe Biden, who with his son, Hunter, and to the detriment of the American Taxpayer, has ripped off at least two countries for millions of dollars, calling for my impeachment – and I did nothing wrong. Joe’s Failing Campaign gave him no other choice!” Trump wrote.

Frank Luntz says 2020 Dems openly hostile toward ‘those who’ve been successful’

The fight for the “soul of the Democratic Party” is over, pollster Frank Luntz declared Thursday, saying the party’s moderate voices are being drowned out.

“The hostility of these Democratic candidates, most of them, to corporate America, to CEOs, to those who’ve been successful is significant,” Luntz said on Fox News’ “The Ingraham Angle,” where he shared his perspective on this week’s Democratic presidential debates in Detroit.

DOUG SCHOEN: SECOND DEMOCRATIC DEBATE — TWO BIG WINNERS, TWO BIG LOSERS AND ONE BIG, UNANSWERED QUESTION

During the two night of debates Tuesday and Wednesday, with separate groups of 10 candidates taking the stage each night, the White House hopefuls spoke repeatedly about raising taxes on the wealthy, insurance companies charging “unreasonable prices” and the need to stand up to corporations.

“I say to every CEO who’s watching right now and every corporate executive: They’re after you. They’re blaming you. They’re holding you accountable,” Luntz said.

He added that economic freedom is under attack.

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“This is not just about politics,” he said. “This is not just about winning the Democratic nomination. This is about changing the structure of the economy in the United States and they are determined to turn it upside-down.”

Axelrod warns Medicare-for-all, immigration proposals unpopular with voters

Former President Obama aide David Axelrod Tuesday warned that many of the proposals endorsed by Democratic presidential candidates disregard many polls that show these positions unpopular.

He noted that polls show large numbers of Americans oppose Medicare-for-all, decriminalizing illegal border crossings and giving free healthcare to illegal immigrants.

“It does seem if you’re running for president that you ought to take into consideration what the country wants,” Axelrod said during CNN’s post-debate analysis.

DETROIT DEBATE: LIBERAL 2020 DEMS FORCED ON DEFENSE OVER ‘MEDICARE-FOR-ALL,’ IMMIGRATION

A majority of the 20 candidates in the debates support some version of Medicare-for-all, which would eliminate private insurance. A majority of voters oppose single-payer, according to a new Marist poll. All 10 candidates raised their hands during the second night of debates last month when asked if they would provide health care for illegal immigrants.

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“Do we move forward with these idealized proposals that are going to beg opposition and make it easier for Donald Trump to make his case and win re-election when the stakes are so high?” Axelrod added. “This is what a lot of Democrats are worried about.”

Linda McMahon: Trump critics pointing to poll numbers forgetting what happened in 2016

Trump critics pointing to President Trump’s less than ideal 2020 poll numbers are forgetting what happened in 2016, according to Linda McMahon.

Not only are they missing the point, but McMahon said those concerns about Trump’s reelection prospects are largely unfounded on Monday on “The Story.”

“Doesn’t it sound a little bit like it did four years ago at about the same time?” the America First Action chairwoman asked host Ed Henry.

“How is Trump ever going to win? Well, he did win. He just absolutely surprised a lot of the pundits, and they were all wrong.”

FOX NEWS POLL: BIDEN UP BY DOUBLE DIGITS IN DEMOCRATIC RACE

On Monday, MSNBC host Joe Scarborough became the latest in a chorus of critics to question the president’s viability in 2020.

“Considering everything that’s happened over the past several years, I must say I’m completely at a loss at how he thinks he’s going to get where he needs to go to get reelected again, while he still just keeps playing to that small base,” he said.

A Fox News Poll released Sunday showed the president trailing former Vice President Joe Biden in a hypothetical head-to-head matchup by double-digits, and four other contenders by single digits.

Henry asked McMahon what she thought of Trump falling behind the former Delaware senator.

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“If you want to roll back the clock a little bit and look, how did it look with Reagan? He was behind. How did it look with Clinton? He was behind and he won again,” she said.

“I really do think that polls, at this particular point, we’re not really putting much faith in them.”

Joe Biden slammed by editor of democratic socialist magazine: ‘A Biden victory is not preordained’

Democrats should continue attacking former Vice President Joe Biden in hopes that the party will adopt more progressive stances needed to beat President Trump in 2020, the founding editor of a democratic socialist magazine argued.

Writing in The Guardian, Jacobin Magazine editor Bhaskar Sunkara called for a Democratic nominee that would push a “real progressive agenda” rather than just attacking the president.

“Simply pointing to the Trump administration and saying ‘this is not normal’ won’t be enough to rally people into the voting booth,” he wrote in an op-ed published Wednesday.

Sunkara’s call came as some warned intraparty divisions could weaken Democrats’ chances at beating Trump — the one priority around which the party seemed to clearly coalesce.

KARL ROVE: 2020 DEMOCRATIC HOPEFULS ENGAGED IN ‘TWO-FRONT CIVIL WAR’

Biden, the frontrunner since before he formally announced he was entering the race, took a decidedly anti-Trump tone from the outset but has received criticism for not being progressive enough on certain issues.

According to Sunkara, attacking Biden would help “break the myth of Biden’s ‘electability.'” And, Sunkara argued, even if Biden beat out Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and other progressives for the party’s nomination, criticism could force the party to adopt a more progressive platform.

“Although he seems to believe so, a Biden victory is not preordained. He could conceivably get edged out by a candidate, like Sanders, bold enough to offer a genuinely alternative vision for America – not just shielding us from the nightmare of Trump, but providing us with aspirations for the future,” Sunkara said.

“Even if Sanders loses the primary, this strong anti-Biden stance might force the Democratic party to adopt more progressive positions that would actually help its chances against Trump.

2020 DEM JOHN DELANEY WARNS OF PARTY’S ‘INTOLERANCE’ AMID AOC SPAT OVER ‘MEDICARE-FOR-ALL’

“Not only is Medicare for All popular, but 60% of Americans support free college and a majority back a jobs guarantee. Big ideas to solve our social problems – and efforts to make the rich pay for them – are popular. Whoever challenges Trump will need to start adopting them.”

Biden, on Wednesday, released a costly climate change plan that seemed at least partially to be an attempt at warding off progressive criticism. After his staff indicated in May that Biden sought a middle way on the issue, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., took a veiled shot at his moderation.

She, along with others, has proposed a more aggressive “Green New Deal” which Biden’s camp cited as a ‘crucial framework” for addressing climate change.

But just as Biden pushed his climate plan, he faced even more friendly fire over his stance on abortion. His fellow 2020 Democratic candidates vehemently denounced the Hyde Amendment — a decades-old law that blocks federal funding from going towards most abortions — after Biden’s campaign said he supported the measure.

NEW 2020 POLLS: BIDEN TOPS TRUMP IN MICHIGAN, EDGES AHEAD IN TEXAS

While it’s unclear how that position will affect Biden in the polls, it seemed to represent the first major rift in a field focused on defeating the president.

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His stance also appeared to prompt both Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio to suggest he wasn’t qualified to serve as the party’s nominee.

“If you don’t support repeal, you shouldn’t be the Democratic nominee,” De Blasio tweeted on Wednesday.

Trump did not try to ‘trap’ Democrats with White House meeting: Kellyanne Conway

Counselor to President Trump Kellyanne Conway said on Thursday that Democrats’ allegation the administration set a trap for them was incorrect.

During “America’s Newsroom,” Conway told Bill Hemmer and Sandra Smith, “Well boy, then they’re easier marks than they even seem. Nobody set a trap for them.”

Conway said that the president was serious about infrastructure and that Democrats ruined the meeting an hour before when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters the president was engaged in a “cover-up.”

“They ruined it by an hour before that basically with her car running waiting for her saying he’s engaged in a cover-up and then coming over here and pretending everything’s great and then we’re just going to discuss infrastructure,” Conway said. “So look it was not a trap.”

COLLINS SLAMS ‘POLITICAL HACK’ DEMOCRATS OVER TRUMP INVESTIGATIONS: AMERICAN PEOPLE NOT PART OF THEIR AGENDA

Yesterday the president abruptly walked out of a meeting at the White House with Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and held a surprise press conference in the Rose Garden.

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“I walked into the room and I told Senator Schumer and Speaker Pelosi, I want to do infrastructure… you can’t do it under these circumstances,” the president told reporters.

Any remaining hope of bipartisanship quickly faded when Pelosi and Schumer took to the mics on Capitol Hill following the president’s remarks.

In an interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Thursday morning, Schumer said that the president was “ill-prepared” and that his team “looked for a way to back out.”

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He also pointed to a Tuesday night letter from the White House which urged lawmakers to focus on passing the president’s renegotiated free trade agreement ahead of infrastructure.

“So, that was their first gambit. Then, they realized they had nothing to say on NAFTA, so I think probably early that morning they concocted this, you know, temper tantrum and he walked out,” Schumer said.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, NANCY PELOSI CLASH AFTER TRUMP MEETING WITH DEMOCRATS WAS CUT SHORT

Conway retorted that Democrats are “not serious” about working with the president: “The president is serious. They can come back today if they want to talk about infrastructure. But, do they really? Is that what’s most important? They’re not even reading the polls.”

Smith asked Conway, “What is the ability for the White House to get something done here?” She noted the escalating tensions in Washington over the last two days.

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Conway told “America’s Newsroom” the Democrats had been unresponsive on other issues like the president’s new immigration plan, trade, and drug pricing.

“We as an administration are going to keep barreling forward without Congress and doing things administratively if they’re not serious about working with us,” she said. “But look it’s only going to take 20 seats to win back 20 seats to get control of Congress again. There are 30 or 31 Democrats sitting in congressional districts that Donald Trump won in 2016 and I guarantee he’ll be visiting most of those really today to talk about the great progress for this country.”

Pete Buttigieg’s Los Angeles fundraisers, from Gwyneth Paltrow’s home to iconic Hollywood gay bar

Mayor Pete Buttigieg is reaching to the stars for fundraising.

In an attempt to continue to raise his profile as a serious Democratic candidate, the 2020 presidential hopeful held a series of fundraising events in the Los Angeles area on Thursday, including a “grassroots” fundraiser at an iconic West Hollywood gay bar and a high-end fundraiser at Gwyneth Paltrow’s home.

Pete Buttigieg will join Fox News Channel for a Town Hall moderated by Chris Wallace on Sunday, May 19, at 7 p.m. ET in Claremont, New Hampshire.

Buttigieg was introduced by his husband, Chasten, at The Abbey’s sold-out event.

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The fundraiser, publicized as a “grassroots” event, cost $25 to attend. It was co-hosted by West Hollywood Mayor Lindsey Horvath, Sam Greisman and Brent Weinstein, the chief innovation officer at United Talent Agency (UTA), Variety reported.

The 37-year-old mayor of South Bend, Ind., told the audience to ignore skeptics who say change is impossible.

“If anybody tells you whether they’re not sure if America is capable in these twisted and dark times of delivering or vindicating our hopes, tell them you saw at The Abbey in West Hollywood the top tier presidential candidate on his way to the White House, moments after his husband introduced him,” Buttigieg said, according to NBC News.

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Buttigieg also attended three other high-end fundraisers on Thursday, including a lunch event in Brentwood, an evening event at the home of investor Brian Goldsmith and his wife Claire Goldsmith and a later evening event at the home of Gwyneth Paltrow and her husband Brad Falchuk.

Tickets to each of the events cost $250 a person, Variety reported, though tickets to the event at the Goldsmiths’ home were starting at $250 only for people under the age of 37 — Buttigieg’s age.

On Thursday morning, Buttigieg also attended a public event in support of a parcel tax initiative called Measure EE alongside Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, the publication reported. The initiative would raise money for public schools in Los Angeles.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Man who died in Democratic megadonor Ed Buck’s home called him a ‘f—ing devil,’ report says

A man who died last month at the West Hollywood home of prominent Democratic Party fundraiser Ed Buck warned his friends to steer clear of the well-connected donor and referred to him as a “f—ing devil” and “a horrible, horrible man,” according to a report Monday night.

Timothy Dean, 55, was found dead in Buck’s apartment early on Jan. 7, 17 months after 26-year-old male escort Gemmel Moore was found dead of a methamphetamine overdose. The Daily Beast reported that Dean and Buck had a relationship years before Moore’s death, but Dean’s friends claimed the relationship turned into a one-sided after — with Buck sending multiple text messages to Dean and Dean declining to respond.

One friend of Dean, DeMarco Majors, told the website that Moore told him during a November 2018 conversation: “Ed Buck hits me up all the time, and I don’t answer none of his text messages. Don’t you take your a– over there.” Majors said he told Dean that he didn’t know who Buck was, but that did not deter Dean.

Timothy Dean died at the residence of Democratic donor Ed Buck earlier this year

Timothy Dean died at the residence of Democratic donor Ed Buck earlier this year

GEMMEL MOORE INVESTIGATION: PROSECUTORS DECLINE TO FILE CHARGES AGAINST DEM DONOR IN FATAL OVERDOSE

“Don’t you go over there,” Dean reportedly told Majors again. “I’m not going over there either. S—, I’m not trying to end up dead.”

Buck’s attorney, Seymour Amster, described Dean at the time of his death as a “longtime friend” of Buck who had “reached out for his help” and had begun “acting in a bizarre way” after he arrived at Buck’s apartment the night he died. When contacted by Fox News about the Daily Beast report, Amster wrote in an email: “We are in possession of text messages from Mr. Dean to Mr. Buck that refute the picture the Daily Beast is trying to paint of the relationship between Mr. Dean and Mr. Buck. The text messages do not put Mr. Dean in a good light. We are sure that law enforcement are in possession of these texts as well.

“It seems that Mr. Dean had a secret life he was keeping from a lot of his friends,” Amster added. “That is as far as we will go with what we and law enforcement possess … If this matter ends up in a courtroom, and that is a big ‘IF’ we will then decide if it is necessary to disclose Mr. Dean’s secret life.”

Walter Harris, another friend of Dean’s, texted him an article about Moore’s July 2017 death. In response, Dean said: “This might be it for Ed Buck” and called him, “f—ing devil.” In July 2018, prosecutors declined to file charges against Buck in Moore’s death.

Still another friend, Jermaine Johnson, said Dean told him after Moore died that Buck was “a horrible, horrible man.”

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The cause of Dean’s death has not been made public. Amster told Fox News that Buck was interviewed by police on the night of Dean’s death and “disclosed all of the information law enforcement needed.

“There is no reason to have him re-interviewed,” Amster added, “there is nothing new they can obtain.”

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