Biden campaign says Trump's comments are 'beneath the dignity of the office'

On Saturday, Trump tweeted about recent North Korean missile tests, which included quoting a slam on Biden by Pyongyang.
Image: US-VOTE-DEMOCRATS-Biden
Former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during the kickoff of his presidential campaign in Philadelphia on May 18, 2019.Dominick Reuter / AFP - Getty Images

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By Dartunorro Clark and Mike Memoli

Former Vice President Joe Biden's 2020 campaign hit back at President Donald Trump on Tuesday after the commander in chief quoted North Korea's criticisms of Biden while in Japan over the weekend.

"The President’s comments are beneath the dignity of the office," Biden's deputy campaign manager, Kate Bedingfield, said in a statement released shortly after Trump returned to the United States. "To be on foreign soil, on Memorial Day, and to side repeatedly with a murderous dictator against a fellow American and former Vice President speaks for itself."

"And it’s part of a pattern of embracing autocrats at the expense of our institutions — whether taking Putin’s word at face value in Helsinki or exchanging 'love letters' with Kim Jong Un,” Bedingfield continued, referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin and the North Korean leader.

Trump and Kim held a summit in Singapore in 2018 to work toward the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Another summit followed in February 2019 in Hanoi but was cut short without an agreement.

On Saturday, Trump tweeted about recent North Korean missile tests, saying that he is confident in his relationship with Kim and quoting an editorial published by North Korea's state-run Korean Central News Agency that derided Biden with a series of insults, including that he has a "low IQ."

"North Korea fired off some small weapons, which disturbed some of my people, and others, but not me," Trump tweeted. "I have confidence that Chairman Kim will keep his promise to me, & also smiled when he called Swampman Joe Biden a low IQ individual, & worse. Perhaps that’s sending me a signal?"

The Trump campaign on Tuesday called the Biden campaign's response to the president's tweet "rich" given Biden's remarks criticizing the administration's policies while in Germany earlier this year.

"But unlike the Obama-Biden administration, which failed to make any progress with North Korea, President Trump has actually increased pressure and gotten them to the negotiating table," Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh said in a statement. "If you want an example of ‘siding with a murderous dictator,’ how about the disastrous Iran nuclear deal? Or failing to follow through on the ‘red line’ with Syria? From the Iraq war to the Russia reset, Joe Biden has been wrong on virtually every foreign policy call in the last four decades. Just ask former Obama Defense Secretary Robert Gates.”

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Trump also responded later Tuesday, saying he was really "sticking up" for Biden because his phrasing in the tweet was "softer" than the terms used by the Korean Central News Agency.

"Kim Jong Un called him a 'low IQ idiot,' and many other things, whereas I related the quote of Chairman Kim as a much softer 'low IQ individual.' Who could possibly be upset with that?" the president tweeted.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday that both Trump and Kim "agree in their assessment of former Vice President Joe Biden.”

“I think they agree in their assessment of former Vice President Joe Biden,” Sanders said, speaking from Japan, where she accompanied the president. “The president doesn't need somebody else to give him an assessment of Joe Biden. He's given his own assessment a number of times. I think you've seen it. I'm sure you've covered it on your program. The president watched him and his administration with President Obama fail for eight years.”

During his campaign launch in Philadelphia earlier this month, Biden criticized Trump for his relationships with Kim and Putin. He asked the crowd, “Are we a nation that embraces dictators and tyrants like Putin and Kim Jong Un?”

Days later, the Korean Central News Agency blasted Biden for “rhetoric slandering the supreme leadership" of North Korea, and claimed the former vice president “has gone reckless and senseless, seized by ambition for power.”

“What he uttered is just sophism of an imbecile bereft of elementary quality as a human being, let alone a politician,” the state-run news agency said.

Biden and Trump have sparred since the former vice president entered the 2020 race. Biden has called Trump the “divider-in-chief,” and Trump has sent out numerous Twitter missives aimed at Biden, whom he has called “SleepyCreepy Joe.” Trump also called Biden a "low-IQ individual" in a March tweet.

Some Republican members of Congress criticized the president for quoting North Korea's insults of Biden over the holiday weekend.

"Wrong for @POTUS Trump to criticize @JoeBiden in Japan and to agree with Kim Jong-un," New York Rep. Pete King tweeted Monday. "Politics stops at water’s edge. Never right to side with murderous dictator vs. fellow American."

"It’s Memorial Day Weekend and you’re taking a shot at Biden while praising a dictator," Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger tweeted Sunday. "This is just plain wrong."

Trump's comment on Saturday was part of a string of tweets aimed at Biden over the holiday weekend. On Monday, Trump criticized Biden, former Democratic senator from Delaware, for his role in passing the 1994 crime bill as the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“Anyone associated with the 1994 Crime Bill will not have a chance of being elected. In particular, African Americans will not be able to vote for you,” Trump tweeted Monday. “I, on the other hand, was responsible for Criminal Justice Reform, which had tremendous support, and helped fix the bad 1994 Bill!”

“Super Predator was the term associated with the 1994 Crime Bill that Sleepy Joe Biden was so heavily involved in passing,” Trump wrote in a second tweet. “That was a dark period in American History, but has Sleepy Joe apologized? No!”

Biden has claimed the bill did not spur mass incarceration, as critics of the legislation contend. But former President Bill Clinton, who signed the bill into law, said in 2015 that it “made the problem worse."

Earlier this month, another 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, California Sen. Kamala Harris, took issue with Biden's claim about the legislation, saying it "encouraged and was the first time that we had a federal three-strikes law."

“It funded the building of more prisons in the states," she said. "So I disagree, sadly.”

Monica Alba contributed.