Trump was in Tennessee Monday evening under the pretense of supporting members of the Republicans running in the 2018 midterms, but there was only one election really on his mind: 2020, baby.
Per the New York Times post-game story on the rally, it was mostly a routine appearance for Trump: a couple attacks on the media, a continued defense of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh (who has been accused of multiple sexual assaults, allegations he has denied), and plenty of racist rhetoric toward immigrants. Otherwise, Trump was mostly interested in owning his potential opponents in 2020.
For Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who said on Saturday that she would “take a hard look” at a run for President in 2020, Trump went with the tried-and-true “Pocahontas” dig, while also apparently accusing Warren of being a centrist? Huh.
“The Democrats can no longer be trusted with your power,” he said, describing them as the party of “crime.”
“They have moved so far left that ‘Pocahontas’ is considered a conservative,” using a moniker he has affixed to Ms. Warren, who has claimed to have Native American heritage. Several Native American groups have denounced Mr. Trump’s term as racist.
“She said she’s considering a run for the presidency,” he said at the rally.
Trump also laid into former Vice President Joe Biden, who was last seen complaining that people won’t stop holding him responsible for the abysmal way Anita Hill was treated during her 1991 testimony.
But Trump bypassed that line of attack, instead trying out a new nickname: “one percent Biden,” which we can only assume is a reference to Biden’s dismal showing in the 2008 Iowa primaries. That seems like a pretty obscure reference to just toss out with no context (I had to Google it), but sure.
Per the Times:
He moved on to Mr. Biden. “We call him ‘one percent Biden,’” Mr. Trump said. “Until Obama took him off the trash heap, he couldn’t do anything.”
He added sarcastically that Mr. Biden is “a real genius,” and mocked him for saying he would like to fight Mr. Trump. “They’ve got some real beauties going.”
New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker was up next, with Trump complaining that the former mayor “destroyed Newark,” and vaguely referencing “some of the things he wrote when he was young about women.” The latter line refers to a controversy that bubbled up in the conservative media last month, where outlets like the Daily Caller and Fox News unearthed an op-ed Booker wrote for the Stanford Daily in 1992, in which he graphically described groping a girl during a drunken New Year’s party when he was 15. As the Washington Post noted, the distinction was that Booker’s op-ed openly acknowledged that transgression and explained how it contributed to his understanding of gender dynamics and sexual consent today. As the Post reported:
“Senator Booker’s Stanford Daily column has been the focus of disingenuous right-wing attacks that have circulated online and in partisan outlets for the past five years,” a spokeswoman for Booker said in an email. “These attacks ring hollow to anyone who reads the entirety of the column, which is in fact a direct criticism of a culture that encourages young men to take advantage of women — written at a time when so candidly discussing these issues was rare — and speaks to the impact Senator Booker’s experience working to help rape and sexual assault survivors as a college peer counselor had on him.”
What Trump is banking on, of course, is that this nuance will be completely lost on his supporters or undecided voters who just Google “Cory Booker women” and come across the Daily Caller article.
Trump did eventually get around to talking about Rep. Marsha Blackburn, the Republican he’s endorsed to take over retiring Sen. Bob Corker’s seat in Tennessee.
“A vote for Marsha is really a vote for me, and everything we stand for,” he said at the rally. Blackburn is currently in a dead heat in the polls with her Democratic opponent, Phil Bredesen.
But most importantly: There was a bat.