DAVENPORT, Iowa — Former Vice President Joe Biden traded insults with President Donald Trump as the Democratic presidential candidate barnstormed through Iowa on Tuesday while both men were in the state — using that backdrop to contrast himself with the president.
Biden, who is taking a two-day trip to the state, was set to lambaste the president in a wide-ranging speech in Davenport on Tuesday evening, hammering the president on everything from his character to his attempts to nullify the Affordable Care Act, and from his handling of climate change to his trade policies.
At his Davenport event, Biden was planning to say "I hope Trump's presence here will be a clarifying event," according to prepared remarks released by his campaign.
He got started on Trump earlier in the day in Mount Pleasant, Iowa, where he mocked the president's claims that there's a secret part of the deal he struck with Mexico last week. Trump made the claim after reports that much of the agreement with Mexico to avert tariffs by stemming the flow of migration toward the United States was agreed to months ago.
"I understand the president is down the road. Apparently he has a secret, important document with Mexico," he said to laughs from the crowd. "I'm sure there are lot of Iowans who are being crushed by his tariffs who are anxious to see it."
Trump, meanwhile, delivered remarks at Southwest Iowa Renewable Energy, an ethanol company, in Council Bluffs, Iowa, where he called the former vice president "Sleepy Joe" and a "sleepy guy."
"He was someplace in Iowa today and he said my name so many times that people couldn't stand it anymore," Trump said. He also compared Biden's strategy of attacking him to Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign. "That reminds me of Crooked Hillary, she did the same thing," he said, adding that voters learned she didn't like him, but not about what she stood for.
The Trump attacks began before he even left Washington, telling reporters on the White House lawn that Biden is a "dummy" and a "loser" who "acts different than he used to" and "looks different than he used to.”
“I heard Biden, who's a loser — I mean, look, Joe never got more than 1 percent except [former President Barack] Obama took him off the trash heap," Trump said. "And now it looks like he’s failing. It looks like his friends from the left are going to overtake him pretty soon.”
The president also called Biden "weak mentally."
"Now, I have to tell you, he’s a different guy," Trump said. "He looks different than he used to, he acts different than he used to, he’s even slower than he used to be. So, I don’t know, but when he mentions my name that many times, I guess I should be complimented."
Biden noted Trump's comments, telling the crowd in Mount Pleasant that it appeared Trump "had my speech on in Air Force One."
"He's really fascinated with me," Biden said, also poking fun at the president's nicknames for him.
"I'm 'Low IQ' or 'Slow.' I don’t know what I am, 'Slow Joe Biden'?" he quipped. "Give me a break. I mean, it’s like out of 'Alice in Wonderland.' I mean, you know."
In the Davenport speech, the former vice president will say farmers and manufacturers "have been crushed" by Trump's trade war. Pointing to the deal Trump recently announced with Mexico to stave off tariffs he promised if that country did not do more to stem the flow of migration toward the U.S., Biden will say "maybe there’s some secret development yet to be revealed — but based on what we know, it seems more like old wine in new bottles."
Biden will criticize Trump's understanding of tariffs — which the president called "beautiful" during a CNBC interview on Monday — and his grasp of economics entirely, saying the president "doesn't get the basics."
Trump "thinks his tariffs are being paid by China," Biden will say. "Any beginning econ student at Iowa or Iowa State could tell you that the American people are paying his tariffs. The cashiers at Target see what’s going on — they know more about economics than Trump."
Biden will pledge to repeal the tax cuts Trump signed into law and said his opposition to the Affordable Care Act will be the president's ultimate demise, pointing to Republican losses in the 2018 midterms.
"But time and time again, on issue after issue, Trump makes the wrong choices," Biden will say. "He is motivated by the wrong thing."
Saying there are "a lot of ways Trump fails the basic standard to be president," Biden will add, "but one of them is this: Donald — it’s not about you. It’s about America."
"This president is setting a standard for crude language and embarrassing behavior that is burrowing deep into this culture — and it’s going to take a long time to get rid of it," Biden added.
Biden has been a favorite target of Trump's early in the 2020 campaign cycle as polling shows the former vice president with an initial lead over his Democratic rivals. Late last month, Trump tweeted that he "smiled" after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un "called Swampman Joe Biden a low IQ individual, & worse," later telling reporters in Japan that he agreed with Kim's assessment.