Donald Trump launches new attacks against Joe Biden as he readies 2020 rematch Former President Donald Trump is escalating his attacks on President Biden in another sign his campaign is looking past the Republican primaries — and focusing more on the general election ahead.

Tired of the Republican primary, GOP frontrunner Donald Trump shifts focus to Biden

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Former President Donald Trump is escalating his attacks on President Biden, another sign that Trump's campaign is looking past the Republican primaries and ahead to the general election. At a recent rally in South Dakota, Trump referred to Biden almost 60 times. He mentioned Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, his closest rival in the Republican primary, just two times. As NPR White House correspondent Franco Ordoñez reports, Trump and his allies are working in tandem to weaken the president ahead of the election.


KRISTI NOEM: Ladies and gentlemen, the 45th and the 47th president of the United States, Donald J. Trump.

FRANCO ORDOÑEZ, BYLINE: Within five minutes of this speech, former President Donald Trump aimed his exaggerated and false attacks at the current president. He called President Biden a leader of communist maniacs who were looting the middle class. He claimed children were being mutilated. He even attacked Biden's golf game.


DONALD TRUMP: This guy. The worst is did you ever see his golf swing? He said he's a six handicap.

ORDOÑEZ: His supporters loved it. They laughed. They cheered.



ORDOÑEZ: Calling him Crooked Joe, Trump referred to Biden as a Manchurian candidate and head of a crime family.


TRUMP: They're just destroying our country. And if we don't take it back - if we don't take it back in '24, I really believe we're not going to have a country left. There's not going to be anything left.

ORDOÑEZ: He cited how far he was ahead in the Republican polls and called Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida an unskilled politician. But that was about all he said about his Republican rivals.

HOGAN GIDLEY: Donald Trump is up over his Republican opponents by anywhere from 40 to 50 points. He doesn't need to talk about any of them.

ORDOÑEZ: Hogan Gidley is a former White House spokesman who still speaks regularly with Trump. He says his old boss has his eye on the main prize.

GIDLEY: The focus is and should be on Joe Biden. That's the person Republicans want to unseat. That's the person Donald Trump should continue to attack.

ORDOÑEZ: And that's what he's doing. According to AdImpact, a firm that tracks ad spending, Trump and his super PAC have shifted the focus of his attack ads to Biden after spending millions in ads against DeSantis this spring. Republican strategist Alex Conant says the increasingly vicious attacks are a way to attract headlines and also workshop material to see what resonates.

ALEX CONANT: Donald Trump lost in 2020 in part because he never found a good attack line against Joe Biden. I think he's going to road test everything under the sun in hopes of finding a punch that can land before the general election next year.

ORDOÑEZ: Trump has been indicted in four different criminal cases, but he got some help from surrogates in the House of Representatives who shifted attention away from those cases by launching an impeachment inquiry of Biden over his son's business dealings. The White House says Republicans have no evidence to back up their claims and insists Biden did nothing wrong.

DOUG SOSNIK: I don't care what anybody tells you. Any time you're in a White House and you're facing impeachment, that's a potentially dangerous environment for the incumbent president to be in, regardless of how legitimate or illegitimate it is.

ORDOÑEZ: Doug Sosnik knows this all too well. He was an adviser to former President Bill Clinton, who was impeached in 1998. Sosnik thinks Biden, like Clinton, will come out ahead politically in the long run, but says impeachment gives Trump a counterpunch as he faces looming criminal trials.

SOSNIK: Well, he's either got to defend himself, which I think he can't do, or he's got to put out alternative programming, at least in the way he thinks. So putting out this red meat, retrospective look on America for his base is very effective.

ORDOÑEZ: That's a message that will help him in the short term. But Sosnik believes it will ultimately cost him in the general election.

Franco Ordoñez, NPR News.


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