Donald Trump and Joe Biden did not meet on Tuesday in Iowa, an agricultural state in the Midwest, but their distance confrontation – tense, aggressive – had a taste of their possible duel during the presidential election of 2020.
If the Democratic primaries are very open, Joe Biden remains, for the time being, the favorite in the polls to face the Republican billionaire, in search of a second four-year term.
Speaking at the same time, from Council Bluffs and Mount Pleasant, two cities some 400 km apart, the two septuagenarians with radically different backgrounds both posed as tireless defenders of the interests of American farmers. But have also multiplied the spades.
“He is the weakest mentally” of the candidates in the running, had asserted the American president even before flying to Iowa, calling his possible Democratic opponent a “moron”.
Very upset, the tenant of the White House seemed to question the ability to govern the former vice-president of Barack Obama. “He looks different, he behaves differently, he’s even slower than before. I don’t know…”, he said, in a formulation full of innuendo.
“The others have a lot more energy,” he added, in reference to the twenty or so other men and women who are hoping to win the Democratic nomination.
For his part, the former Democratic senator frontally attacked the ex-New York businessman on his economic policy, accusing him of having forgotten the most disadvantaged, who contributed to his surprise victory in 2016, and to be disconnected from a hurting America.
– “Easy to play tough” –
“He’s playing the hard man,” he said, referring to the price of the trade war the US president declared in Beijing. “But it’s easy to play tough when it’s other people who pay the piper (…) Trump does not understand the basic data (of the economy)”.
“I think Trump poses an existential threat to America,” he said in a somewhat monotonous speech.
Since the launch of his campaign, Joe Biden has tried to position himself above the fray, as the only one capable of attracting the vote of blue-collar workers in several key states won by Donald Trump in 2016.
But the old Democratic lion, omnipresent in American political life for nearly half a century, must first go through the primary box. And the road ahead promises to be tough, as evidenced by his recent U-turn on federal abortion funding, which put him in trouble against his younger rivals.
Worrying sign: his lead in Iowa – the first state to vote in the long process of the Democratic primary – is narrowing over his opponents, according to a Des Moines Register / Mediacom / CNN poll published this weekend.
In this study, he is credited with 24% of voters’ voting intentions in Iowa (compared to more than 30% nationally), while behind him three candidates emerge clearly, neck and neck: Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg.
Iowa has oscillated for a quarter of a century between Democrats and Republicans: it was won by Donald Trump in 2016, by Barack Obama in 2012 and 2008, by George W. Bush in 2004, by Al Gore in 2000…
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