Just two months after President Donald Trump declared Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Elizabeth Warren “finished,” his campaign now is viewing her as a gathering threat in the lead-up to the 2020 election.
“Although our own early published polls and internal polls discounted Elizabeth Warren, her recent momentum in May and June in national and early caucus and primary states into a strong second place to a flat Joe Biden is a cause for our campaign’s attention,” Trump campaign pollster John McLaughlin recently told Politico.
Until now, Trump and his campaign have focused mostly on Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden. In the last few weeks, Trump has expressed his concern about President Barack Obama’s former vice president by calling Biden “China’s Dream Candidate,” “Sleepy Joe Biden,” and “Swampman Joe Biden.” The latter pejorative was thought up by Trump’s pal, North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.
However, Warren’s strong showing in recent polls has Team Trump shifting more of its focus onto the Massachusetts senator’s campaign. Previously, Trump’s attacks against Warren mostly have been limited to calling her the racist slur “Pocahontas” while mocking her previous claims to Native American ancestry.
But according to Politico, Warren’s “disciplined style, populist-infused speeches, and perceived ability to win over suburban female voters” has “raised concerns” among Trump advisers.
Recent polls show Warren gaining ground on both Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders, who has consistently placed second until now in polling about Democratic contenders. A recent UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll showed Warren and Sanders essentially tied months ahead of California’s March 3, 2020 Democratic primary on Super Tuesday, with 18% and 17% support of likely Democratic voters, respectively. While Biden continues to lead in the state, with 22% of likely voters according to the poll, that number is down by 4% from an April Quinnipiac University poll.
Equally noteworthy, Warren not only has overtaken Sanders for second place in California polling, but also she has knocked Sen. Kamala Harris into fourth place in her own home state, with 13% of likely voters, according to the UC Berkeley poll.
In South Carolina, which will host the state Democratic Party’s annual convention next Saturday, Warren has overtaken Sanders and Harris in the latest polling to place second, behind Biden, with 17% of likely Democratic voters, according to a new Post and Courier-Change Research Poll. Biden’s support in the state has dropped from 46% just after he announced his candidacy to 37% in the latest poll.
Warren, however, isn’t taking the current polling numbers too seriously this far out from the primaries and caucuses. ‘‘It’s way too early to talk about polls,” she said on Saturday, according to Bloomberg. “What are we, eight months away from the first caucuses and primary elections?’’
Real Clear Politics polling averages through June 12 show Biden with a double-digit lead nationally, at 32.2%, while Sanders is in second at 15.8% and Warren is in third at 11.2%. But Real Clear Politics also shows Warren gaining sharply on Sanders in the month of June.
Trump’s re-election campaign and other GOP groups are paying close attention to all of this.
The GOP oppo research shop America Rising has placed Warren in its top tier of Democratic candidates and will prioritize putting trackers on her campaign events. The RNC, meanwhile, recently sent out a news release drawing attention to a radio interview in which Warren was pressed on her past claims of Native American ancestry.
But Trump aides are planning a barrage that extends well beyond the heritage issue, which has been the focus of Trump’s mockery and broadsides. They’re preparing to dig into her past as a professor and try to pick apart her laundry list of policy proposals.
Warren’s response to this: ‘‘Donald Trump is going to do whatever he thinks helps Donald Trump,’’ she said, according to Bloomberg.