Biden to Describe Trump as ‘Existential Threat’ as They Circle Each Other in Iowa

FILE -- President Donald Trump at a campaign rally in Montoursville, Penn., May 20, 2019. On June 11, Trump will engage with former Vice President Joe Biden, if indirectly, for the first time during the 2020 campaign when they both make appearances in Iowa. (Eric Thayer/The New York Times)



By Katie Glueck and Annie Karni

DES MOINES, Iowa — President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden, who are increasingly sparring and treating each other as political foils in the 2020 White House race, are each set to appear Tuesday in the key early voting state of Iowa — and the Biden campaign wasted no time taking swings.


Biden, who leads in early polls for the Democratic presidential nomination, will call Trump “an existential threat to America” in a speech in Davenport on Tuesday evening, according to prepared remarks. He will lace into the president over a range of issues, such as “pursuing a damaging and erratic trade war” and his approach to tariff negotiations, as farmers — including in this heavily agricultural state — have struggled.


“Trump doesn’t get the basics. He thinks his tariffs are being paid by China,” Biden is expected to say. “Any beginning econ student at Iowa or Iowa State could tell you that the American people are paying his tariffs. The cashiers at Target see what’s going on — they know more about economics than Trump.”


Biden’s campaign released early excerpts from his remarks at 6 a.m. in an attempt to frame the political day to come on the former vice president’s terms, rather than Trump’s, who usually begins attacking rivals on Twitter in the morning.


Trump avoided tweeting about Biden in the early hours, focusing on Democrats looking to investigate him rather than those running to replace him. Trump will be in a highly partisan environment Tuesday evening as he addresses a dinner held by the Iowa Republican Party.


Biden, meanwhile, appears ready to deliver some of his most direct and blistering criticism of the president to date as he makes three campaign stops across the state, in his latest effort to stay above the Democratic primary fray and to deliver a general-election-themed message focused squarely on defeating Trump.


The schedule for the day had Biden setting the tone. Trump, who prides himself on counterpunching, was scheduled to tour an ethanol plant in Council Bluffs in the late afternoon, for what would ostensibly be a White House event, hours after Biden’s first event in Ottumwa. Later in the evening, Trump was set to fly Air Force One across the state, appearing in West Des Moines for the state party fundraising dinner as Biden delivers his speech in Davenport.