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After a week in which he appeared to stumble over whether he supports federally funded abortions and other issues, Joe Biden roared into Iowa Tuesday to return taking his fight directly to Donald Trump.
“There’s a lot of ways Trump fails the basic standard to be president — but one of them is this: Donald — it’s not about you. It’s about America,” Biden exclaimed. “Everywhere we turn, it’s clear that Trump is shredding what we believe in most. I believe we have to restore those basic values. I gather some people think that’s a return to the past.
“I don’t see it that way. I see it as embracing the enduring values that have made America,” Biden added. “I don’t think that’s taking us into the past. For me, it’s the only way America is going to have a future.”
Observers noted both that Biden’s strategy of staying above fray from his many Democratic rivals and concentrating his rhetorical fire on Trump could well be smart–but also holds risk.
“What we see from the remarks that Joe Biden’s campaign released today he’s planning on calling back and saying that [Trump is] an existential threat to the country, that he employs childish tactics, that the cashier at Target knows more about the economics in the country than does Donald Trump,” said CNN Political Director David Chalian. “That’s an approach that Hillary Clinton tried as well. It didn’t work for her. Maybe Joe Biden will have more success with it, I don’t know, but it’s one approach.”
However, John Kasich, the former Ohio governor who ran for president himself in 2016 against Trump for the Republican presidential nomination, said Biden’s plan certainly is the right one.
“That’s what I would do. No, that’s what I would be doing. I would be acting as though it was a general election. And frankly, look, the strongest candidate in my opinion–and I’m not here to do anything other than to give you my analysis–the strongest candidate right now is Joe Biden,” Kasich said. “He has to watch if he has gas. They’re starting to attack him that he’s too old, but you know what? Donald Trump is three years younger. It’s not like he’s 20 years younger. And age is different today. So I think for Joe Biden to be presenting himself as the standard bearer against Trump, I happen to think it’s really smart strategy.”
Finally, Biden will continue leaning on his association with President Barack Obama, as Obama’s vice president.
“The news of his speech tonight in Davenport was that while all the Democrats last weekend were at that cattle call getting five minutes a piece to talk to the democratic activists in Iowa and Biden was getting a little bit of heat for not being there. Not only was he at his granddaughter’s graduation but his best friend is Obama’s daughter and the Obamas and the Bidens hung out together and had this wonderful families meeting together. He just casually dropped that in his speech and said, ‘Please don’t criticize me for hanging with the Obamas,'” said journalist Ryan Lizza. “He’s going to play that card until he can’t play it anymore. It’s a very powerful card in democratic politics.”
It does seem as though it is working for Biden, according to a new national Quinnipiac poll. Although the poll found several Democratic presidential hopefuls defeating Trump in hypothetical match-ups, Biden crushed the incumbent by “landslide proportions,” of 13 points.