(CNN) – He is the Democratic candidate who has long been worried about US President Donald Trump becoming his rival in the general election. Now, with the entrance of former Vice President Joe Biden in a crowded primary election, a race that was once seen by Trump as an abstract talk has become a concrete testing ground that will challenge his control over the nation's political focus.
Right now, Trump has noted with unpleasant surprise that the Democratic camp is taking up more and more time in the air and on printed papers, a space he has greatly enjoyed for himself over the past two years. He has worked to counteract the tide, returning to his practice of conducting telephone interviews with friendly television presenters and increasing his furious activity on Twitter.
But with Biden's official entry into the Democratic camp, Trump will now face a front-row competitor whose first argument was directly his physical condition for the job, and whose strategy will include driving away low-income white voters who led Trump to the White House.RELATED
The official response of the president did not take long.
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"Welcome to the race, Sleepy Joe," Trump tweeted less than three hours after Biden launched his campaign with a video in which he faced the president for his response to the violence of white supremacy in Charlottesville, Virginia.
"I just hope he has the intelligence, for a long time in doubt, to wage a successful primary campaign," Trump wrote. “It will be unpleasant, you will be dealing with people who really have very sick and insane ideas. But if you succeed, I will see you at the starting point. ”
Asked outside a pizzeria in Wilmington, Delaware, for his answer, the newly declared candidate did not enter the game.
"Everyone knows Donald Trump," Biden said before getting into the front seat of a black sedan.
All about authenticity
As the Democratic primary enters a new phase, Trump has become more and more in tune with the race as candidates begin their regular appearances on cable news channels and in the campaign.
Both in their seventies and each with a political mark rooted in authenticity, Trump and Biden, if faced, would compete for voters in the manufacturing region of the United States and in the Midwest, where Trump won the traditionally democratic enclaves by appealing to an economic and cultural malaise.
At the same time, Biden represents a vestige of the Obama administration, in which Trump has set himself by comparing his own presidency with that of his predecessor.
At political meetings in the White House, Trump often asks about Biden's strength, particularly because his candidacy has become more secure in recent weeks. Biden's native Pennsylvania, Trump's favorite state that changed from blue to red in 2016, is at the root of the president's concern. Biden's first rally will be in Pittsburgh on Monday.
"If it came to the general election, yes, it is a problem," said a Republican involved in the meeting, who spoke on condition of anonymity to refer to a private meeting. "But how can you survive a Democratic primary?"
That, of course, is a central question that will not be answered in months. But Republicans are taking Biden as seriously as any candidate, and more seriously than most.
"I still think of the 20 candidates currently in the race, the former vice president speaks directly to the 90,000 voters in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan who made Donald Trump president," said David Urban, senior advisor to the Trump campaign in Pennsylvania. "If the voters would like a third term of Obama, they would have voted for Hillary (Clinton) instead of for Donald Trump. ”
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Once he made sure he was on the news broadcasts and on the front pages of the newspapers, and that is still important news, Trump has realized that the Democrats are starting to consume more political oxygen.
That includes his favorite Fox News channel, where more primetime candidates appear, sometimes generating Trump's irritation. He recently referred to the appearance of Senator Bernie Sanders, claiming that the channel had manipulated the attendees of an event in favor of Sanders and complaining about the moderators of the channel.
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According to the people around him, those complaints reflect a private anger at the fact that he no longer has the attention essentially for him, a situation that exploded in the first years of his presidency by saturating cable news broadcasts with tweets and appearances. improvised before the cameras.
Now, the networks (including Fox) no longer broadcast all their appearances live, and more attention is being paid to the Democratic camp as it expands to include all 20 competitors. For more than half an hour this Thursday, the cameras were located in the window of Gianni Pizza, in Wilmington, when Biden made his first public appearance as an officially declared candidate. When he finally emerged, he had almost no opportunity to answer questions, which contrasts with Trump, who rarely passes in front of a group of cameras without stopping.
Biden in Trump's mind
In response, the president is planning his own direct calls to the conservative voter base that will probably not be attracted to Democrats. He called the Sean Hannity program on Fox News on Thursday, he will talk to the National Rifle Association at his annual conference in Indiana on Friday and appear at a campaign rally in Wisconsin on Saturday.
Biden's entry was long awaited and Trump has been questioning his advisors for months about the possibilities of the former vice president. People familiar with the talks say that Biden has considered Trump's thinking in 2020 more than any other candidate, although the president has conducted private evaluations of several Democrats when each participates in the race or enjoys a moment of attention. national.
He has denied reporters that he sees the former vice president as a danger and told CBS News in an interview last year that he "dreamed" of competing against Biden. Earlier this month, he insisted that Biden carried a long and ignominious record, even during the Obama administration, which Trump has most often blamed for the mistakes of foreign and economic policy.
“I don't see Joe Biden as a threat. No, I don't see it as a threat. I think it's just a threat to himself, ”Trump said. “He has been there for a long time. His background is not good. It would have to be in Obama's failed background. ”
And he worked to open a gap between Biden and other Democrats, claiming that the spiral of inappropriate behaviors that emerged earlier this month was the work of Biden's leftist rivals.
"It seems that the only extreme non-socialist is being well taken care of by the Socialists, they came to him, our former vice president," he said in a Republican fundraiser. “I was going to call him, I don't know him well, I was going to say‘ welcome to the world, Joe, are you having fun? '”