President Donald Trump’s belligerence is among the only things one can count on him for at this point. As he prepares to face a Democratic challenger in 2020, and the field of possibilities keeps getting larger, two anonymous sources share with the Associated Press that he’s been undertaking the (not at all) important campaign step of preparing nicknames for his rivals.
He’s long been known for that kind of behavior, defining his rise, at least in the headlines, via lines like “Low Energy Jeb,” “Little Marco,” and “Crooked Hillary,” who was a supposedly “nasty woman.”
He’s already utilized nicknames for at least a couple of his potential general election opponents, having previously referred to the race’s newest entrant, Sen. Bernie Sanders as “Crazy Bernie” and its first, Sen. Elizabeth Warren as “Pocahontas” in mocking reference to her past claims of Native American heritage that Trump and Republicans have quite frankly made a much bigger deal about than she has.
At present, it’s not immediately clear who Trump might be most closely targeting next. The AP’s sources simply share that Trump has been “workshopping… attempts to imprint his new adversaries with lasting labels.” The outlet notes that he’s also been “testing out lines of attack in public rallies, exploring vulnerabilities he could use against [Democratic presidential contenders] should they advance to the general election.”
For example, last week in El Paso, Texas, he lambasted now former Democratic Congressman Beto O’Rourke for supposedly drawing only a small crowd to a rally he was holding at the same time to counter the president’s push for a border wall blocking off Mexico. In reality, the crowd sizes weren’t that dramatically different.
Although O’Rourke hasn’t announced a presidential candidacy yet, after a nationally popular although ultimately failed campaign to unseat Sen. Ted Cruz he’s been cast as a potential candidate, and he’s certainly keeping the possibility open. He did far better in the deeply “red” Texas than many would have expected.
Trump has singled out the already confirmed presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris telling The New York Times that he thought her inaugural campaign rally in Oakland displayed her campaign to have a “better crowd” and “better enthusiasm” than her primary rivals. She attracted at least 10,000 people to the rally itself, with some 12,000 reportedly gathered outside.
Considering those points, Trump could soon go after Harris more directly.
He’s privately been ripping into Warren for some time, according to the AP. A White House aide shared that “the president repeatedly ridiculed Warren’s [campaign announcement] video in private conversations with aides and outside advisers.”
His supporters have only kind words for the president’s belligerence. His 2020 campaign manager Brad Parscale says Trump hopes to leverage his Twitter account to “define his potential opponent and impact the Democrat primary debate,” which former White House spokesperson Raj Shah backed up, insisting he expects him “to take full advantage” of the platform.
In reality, however, the repugnant irony remains. Trump wants us to take him and the national emergency he declared just the other day over the supposed crisis at the southern border seriously, but he just keeps tweeting and behaving like a middle school bully.