‘I think almost anybody’ could beat Donald Trump in 2020
WASHINGTON — For former Vice President Joe Biden, the 2020 presidential campaign has been focused primarily on one question: Who is best to beat President Donald Trump?
His campaign’s answer: Joe Biden is.
But, in an interview for a podcast with the Washington Post’s Jonathan Capehart, Biden seemed on the verge of undermining his own camp’s argument in favor of his electability relative to the rest of the 2020 Democratic primary field.
Capehart, an opinion writer for the Post who is also African American, asked Biden whether he believes that it’s “gonna take an old white person to beat an old white person” and “old school against old school” when discussing the African American community’s concern over Trump’s re-election.
Biden responded: “They’d be looking for someone who maybe done them as good a chance of beating Trump, but understands the problems and the opportunities that they face.”
“… when the assertion is made that … well, the reason the only person that can beat Trump is, “an old white guy.” I just think that … I think there’s other people in the race who can beat Trump,” Biden continued.
“Who?” Capehart asked.
“Well, I think almost anybody,” Biden answered. “They’d all make a better president than Trump, no matter who’s left in the race.”
So far, one of the Biden campaign’s critical arguments in favor of his candidacy has been that he is the Democrat best positioned to beat Trump, despite concerns about his age and the increasingly vocal progressive base of the Democratic Party that favors some policies more liberal than Biden prefers.
Earlier this month, Biden’s wife, former second lady Dr. Jill Biden, told Democratic voters in New Hampshire, “Your candidate might be better on, I don’t know, health care, than Joe is. But you’ve got to look at who’s going to win this election. And maybe you have to swallow a little bit and say, ‘OK, I personally like so and so better,’ but your bottom line has to be that we have to beat Trump.”
More: Jill Biden to Democrats: Your candidate may be ‘better’ on some policies but Joe Biden will beat Trump
“I know that not all of you are committed to my husband, and I respect that,” she said. “But I want you to think about your candidate, his or her electability, and who’s going to win this race.”
“So I think if your goal — I know my goal — is to beat Donald Trump, we have to have someone who can beat him,” she concluded.
In the same podcast interview, Joe Biden also addressed the recent Washington Post reporting that he apparently jumbled the details of different stories of valor.
Biden responded, “I’ve not read the article, but my response is similar to a story he had about the fact that Joe Biden talked about the assassination of Barack Obama,” he said, referring to another recent gaffe. “Everybody understood the context. It was a totally different context that was all about.”
“I was making the point how courageous these people are, how incredible they are, this generation of warriors, these fallen angels we’ve lost. And so, that, I don’t know what the problem is. What is it that I said wrong?” he continued.
More: Biden denies conflating details of heroic war story after Washington Post report raises questions
The Post reported, “it appears as though the former vice president has jumbled elements of at least three actual events into one story of bravery, compassion and regret that never happened.”
“Biden got the time period, the location, the heroic act, the type of medal, the military branch and the rank of the recipient wrong, as well as his own role in the ceremony,” the Post also reported.
In the podcast, Capehart pressed Biden, quoting the newspaper report: “Based on interviews with more than a dozen U.S. troops, their commanders and Biden campaign officials, it appears as though the former vice president has jumbled elements of at least three actual events into one story of bravery, compassion and regret that never happened.”
“He just confirmed it happened,” Biden responded to Capehart.
Thursday, Biden told the Post and Courier in South Carolina that concerns about his habit of gaffes were “ridiculous.” Regarding the specifics of the Washington Post report, the former vice president disputed the notion “that there’s anything I said about that that wasn’t the essence of the story.”
Polling has shown that Democratic voters want to pick a candidate that can beat Trump in 2020.
Biden has led national polling for months, even amid the recent gaffes and misstatements. While a USA TODAY/Suffolk poll released this week also showed Biden leading the Democratic primary field, the same survey showed Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. and Sen. Bernie Sanders. I-Vt., gaining some momentum.
More: USA TODAY/Suffolk poll: Americans dread the 2020 election; Biden maintains his lead
If the election were held today, 41% of those surveyed in the poll said they would vote for an unnamed Democratic nominee, 39% for Trump.
When asked by Capehart about voters’ concerns that he “isn’t all there,” Biden responded, “I’m just gonna go out and say what I believe, why I’m doing what I’m doing, and how I’m gonna do it.”