For over three years, President Joe Biden purposely avoided using the name of his GOP opponent, euphemizing it with phrases like “the other guy” and “my predecessor.” He now frequently mentions former president Donald Trump in his rallies.
On January 30, during a fundraiser in Jupiter, Florida, Biden made the sign of the cross and urged supporters to help him turn presumed Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump into a “loser again” after lamenting that Florida was getting a “real dose of Trumpism,” per POLITICO.
It’s evident from Biden’s subtly changed tone that his staff is focused on the general election and wants to present the election as a contest between him and Donald Trump rather than a test of Biden’s leadership.
An analysis of Biden’s speech transcripts by Axios shows that he started referencing the former president by name in late November 2023 and that his references to him have increased since then.
This change in Biden’s approach coincided with polls showing him behind Trump and calls from Democratic strategists for him to take a more aggressive stance against his predecessor.
Biden made the decision early in 2021 not to mention Trump in public because of his negative feelings toward the 45th president and to defuse the heated political atmosphere that followed his contentious reign, according to former aides.
“The president has a visceral dislike and distrust of what Trump represents,” a CNN contributor and former White House communications director, Kate Bedingfield told Axios.
“So not constantly invoking him and putting him front and center was a way of having him hopefully move out of the center stage of our politics.
Having Trump front and center doesn’t yield bipartisan success, which the president achieved in 2021, 2022,” Bedingfield said. Biden’s shift in tone to include Trump, she continued, “makes sense in the ebb and flow of the term, because now we are on the doorstep of the general election.”
It was a “conscious decision for the start of the presidency, but a re-election campaign against the same guy is a different moment,” former Biden press secretary Jen Psaki said to Axios. In every White House, you alter and evolve according to the needs of the moment.”
“Donald Trump’s MAGA agenda represents the very worst of our politics, which is why time and time again, voters have rejected it at the ballot box,” said Biden-Harris 2024 Campaign Co-Chair Congressman Cedric Richmond, per Biden for President.
“Donald Trump wants to undermine free and fair elections. He’s promising to rule as a dictator. And he’s pledged to use the United States government to exact retribution on his political enemies.
All of this stands in incredibly stark contrast to the prevalent agenda that President Biden and Vice President Harris are running on…issues that have won Democrats elections since 2017. And they are the issues President Biden is running on in this election.”
Geist: You're starting to hear Republicans say Trump is confused. That long riff where he confused Nancy Pelosi with Nikki Haley, you're starting to hear independents and Republicans go 'oof.'
Deutsch: He's looking weak pic.twitter.com/fnZfypaeCK
— Biden-Harris HQ (@BidenHQ) January 30, 2024
The Democratic voters of South Carolina are the reason I’m president, Kamala Harris is a historic vice president, and Donald Trump is a defeated former president.
Let’s do it again.
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) January 30, 2024