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.

Sanders rips Trump over escalating tensions with Iran, says war would be ‘disaster’

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders on Monday took aim at President Trump over the rising tensions between the United States and Iran, warning on Memorial Day that a military confrontation between the two countries would be more disastrous than the Iraq war.

At a speech in Warner — the Democratic presidential candidate’s first stop in a two-day swing through the first-in-the-nation primary state of New Hampshire — Sanders said that during his decades in Congress, ”I think perhaps the most important vote that I have ever cast was against the war in Iraq.”

SANDERS TAKES AIM AT BIDEN OVER FUNDRAISERS

“Right now if you can believe it, Trump and his people in his administration apparently have learned nothing from that horrific war in Iraq,” Sanders said. “And you have (national security adviser) John Bolton and others talking about the need to go to war in Iran.”

Sanders, who is making his second straight bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, said, “If you think the war in Iraq was a disaster, my strong belief is a war with Iran would be much worse…Not only would a war with Iran be a disaster, it happens to be unconstitutional.”

Sanders made similar comments at a large rally in Vermont on Saturday.

The Trump administration has been ringing alarms the past month over what it calls “troubling” and “escalatory” moves by Iran. The U.S. has been raising the volume on Iran ever since the president took the country out of a multilateral nuclear deal with Iran a year ago.

Trump has spent weeks alternating between tough talk towards Tehran while still insisting he’s open to negotiating with the Islamic republic. On Friday, the president told reporters before departing on a trip to Japan that “we’re going to be sending a relatively small number of troops, mostly protective.”

On Monday, during a news conference with the Japanese prime minister, Trump highlighted his administration’s efforts at diplomacy, saying “I really believe that Iran would like to make a deal, and I think that’s very smart of them, and I think that’s a possibility to happen.”

PACE OF BIDEN’S 2020 CAMPAIGN QUESTIONED

Sanders’ spotlighting of his vote against the Iraq war also appears to be a subtle dig against former Vice President Joe Biden, the clear front-runner right now in the latest national polls in the Democratic nomination race, as well as many of the most recent surveys in the crucial early voting primary and caucus states of New Hampshire, Iowa, Nevada and South Carolina.

Then-Sen. Biden of Delaware voted in favor of the Iraq War in 2002.

“Joe voted for the war in Iraq. I led the effort against it,” Sanders said earlier this month in an appearance on ABC’s “This Week.”

An optimistic Sanders told the crowd – estimated at 600 by his campaign – “I believe we stand a very good chance of winning in Iowa and with your help, we can win here in New Hampshire. And if we win here in New Hampshire, I think the path is very good.”

Sanders crushed Hillary Clinton by more than 20 percentage points in New Hampshire’s 2016 Democratic presidential primary. The victory sent the one-time longshot candidate into a marathon battle with Clinton, the eventual nominee. Because of that victory, and the continuing strong organization in the state of his supporters, New Hampshire’s considered a must win for Sanders.

The candidate also said “we’re doing much better in South Carolina and we’re going to do well in Nevada as well. And we’re strong in California. So if we can win those states, I think we have a very strong path to victory.”

And he highlighted that “virtually every poll that I have seen has us defeating Donald Trump and in many of the battleground states, beating him by pretty big numbers.”

But those same very early hypothetical 2020 general election matchups also indicate Biden topping Trump by a healthy advantage.

Sanders was introduced by Ben Cohen, the co-founder of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream who was a top supporter and surrogate of Sanders’ 2016 bid and who’s once again a national co-chair of the campaign.

“Before Bernie, Jerry and I used the be the most famous guys in Vermont,” Cohen joked.

Turning more serious, he called the nation’s capital “the cesspool of what is our political system today. With our help, with all of us, it’s Bernie who will be able to finally flush the crap down the drain.”

Ben and Jerry’s ice cream was served to the crowd gathered in an outdoor amphitheater style setting in this small central New Hampshire community.

The Republican National Committee took aim at the candidate saying “while Bernie Sanders dishes up ice cream today, it’s important to remember that what he’s proposing isn’t so sweet.”

“Bernie may hope voters find his agenda to be sweet, but to Granite Staters, it’s nothing but sour,” RNC spokesperson Nina McLaughlin highlighted.

Scott Wallace, a veteran from South Newbury, New Hampshire backed Sanders in 2016 and he told Fox News he’s supporting the candidate once again.

“He’s consistent, he’s been right on almost every issue since he joined Congress,” he explained.

While plenty of other rivals in the historically large field of nearly two-dozen Democratic White House hopefuls are pushing the same progressive agenda Sanders first championed in his 2016 run, Wallace said “I’m going with the original.”

Susan Reynolds of Concord was also in the audience.

Reynolds, who backed Clinton in 2016, said she’s undecided this time around but gave up part of her holiday weekend because she “was interested to hear what he had to say.

“He’s one of my top four,” she noted, along with Sens. Kamala Harris of California, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg.