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Jul 9, 2024, 9:23pm EDT
politics

As Biden falters, Trump steps up attacks against Harris

REUTERS/Marco Bello
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The News

DORAL, FL — Former President Donald Trump stepped up his criticism of Vice President Kamala Harris during his rally in Florida on Tuesday night amid continued questions over the future of President Joe Biden’s candidacy.

Speaking to a crowd sprawled along a hole on his golf course, the former president nicknamed Harris “Laughin’ Kamala,” attacking her over her handling of the border. Trump also said that Biden chose her as an “insurance policy” — that if he’d “picked someone even half-way competent,” the party would have pushed him out “years ago.”

“I don’t think Kamala Harris’ California socialism is going to go down well with the people of Doral, the people of Miami, or the people of Florida,” Trump said to cheers. “I think she’s worse than Joe, if you wanna know. She was in on it.”

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Trump’s comments coincide with a slow-rolling increase of attacks from his campaign on the vice president: In a July 4 post on Truth Social, the former president described her as his “potentially new Democratic Challenger” and brought up her past relationship with former San Francisco mayor Willie Brown. One day earlier, Trump’s campaign managers Chris LaCivita and Susie Wiles mentioned her in a statement about the drama within the Democratic party, saying that “Cackling Copilot Kamala Harris” was among those who “lied about Joe Biden’s cognitive state.”

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Shelby’s view

While some of Trump’s Republican rivals long ago predicted Biden might not be the nominee, the idea was seen as relatively far-fetched by those closer to his campaign until recently. The escalating attacks on her seem to suggest they’re at least taking it somewhat more seriously. And if nothing else, it’s an excuse to bait Biden and dig into some fresh wounds for his party.

To be clear, many close to Trump are still not convinced that Biden plans to step aside, and so far his party remains too fractured to force him out. Trump appears to share that sentiment, telling Fox News’ Sean Hannity on Monday that Biden has “an ego and he doesn’t want to quit.”

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It’s also unclear how much the campaign has focused on a potential “Plan B” — although they’ve presumably done their homework on her already, as she’s on the ticket with Biden. But where Harris was once an afterthought, she’s now clearly become a focus for Trump: Even with the internal skepticism, Trump and his team appear aware that what was once a fantasy has suddenly become a bit more real.

“I don’t think he wants to get out,” Trump told Hannity. “But if he gets out, it will be her.”

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Notable

  • Other Republicans have ramped up their attacks on Harris too, as the possibility of her replacing Biden has moved from a conspiracy to something being considered by members of her own party.
  • Kamala Harris has continued to whole-heartedly back Biden: In Las Vegas on Tuesday, she praised him as “a fighter.”
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