Biden instructed aides to dial up attacks on Trump’s wild comments

President Joe Biden personally directed his senior campaign aides in recent days to focus more aggressively on former President Donald Trump’s inflammatory comments, according to two sources familiar with the president’s edict.

The thrust of Biden’s direction, delivered to his senior-most staff, was to significantly ramp up the campaign’s efforts to highlight the “crazy sh*t” that Trump says in public, according to those sources.

The previously unreported instruction from the president appears to demonstrate that Biden himself believes it is critical to paint his presumptive Republican opponent as unhinged and unfit for office. For weeks, his campaign has said they are fully prepared for Trump to emerge as the GOP nominee.

The president’s reelection team has long been focused on hammering home what they say are black-and-white contrasts between Biden and Trump when it comes to their temperaments and world views. Biden campaign advisers say that warning voters about what another four years under a Trump presidency would look like is central to their general election strategy – on everything from foreign policy to reproductive rights to the protection of democratic institutions.

That strategy is in no small part driven by widespread concern among Biden aides that too many voters appear to have forgotten about what they see as some of the more outrageous and unacceptable moments of the Trump presidency. As one senior campaign adviser put it recently, they have been surprised by how many voters appear to put on “rose-colored glasses” when looking back on the Trump years – a reality that the campaign says they must alter by constantly reminding voters of what Trump stands for.

“The president knows the stakes this November could not be higher for the American people,” Ammar Moussa, the Biden campaign’s director of rapid response, said in a statement to CNN. “Donald Trump is the polar opposite of everything President Biden stands for and has accomplished since he took office, and the campaign’s top priority over the next nine months will be laying out that stark choice for voters.”

The president delivered his order to his top aides in recent weeks, but did so before this month’s release of special counsel Robert Hur’s report on Biden’s handling of classified documents, according to one of the sources. Hur did not bring charges against Biden, but kicked off a political firestorm by describing Biden as an elderly man with memory problems in his lengthy report.

If Biden is set on his team more intensively highlighting Trump’s most provocative statements, the campaign has had ample opportunity to do just that in recent weeks.

Trump said this month that he would encourage Russia to invade countries that do not meet their NATO obligations, alarming US and foreign officials alike.

The campaign was quick to release a statement from Biden.

“Donald Trump’s admission that he intends to give Putin a greenlight for more war and violence, to continue his brutal assault against a free Ukraine, and to expand his aggression to the people of Poland and the Baltic States are appalling and dangerous,” the president said. “Freedom and democracy itself are on the ballot in November.”

That marked only the second time, according to a campaign official, that a Biden campaign statement was attributed directly to the president. The first time was in December, when Biden drew attention to the eight-year anniversary of Trump’s so called “Muslim ban,” which the president said was “cruel” and “betrayed America’s long history of welcoming people of all faiths and no faith at all.”

Two days later, Biden himself excoriated Trump for those comments in remarks from the White House.

“No other president in our history has bowed down to a Russian dictator,” Biden said in a speech that marked some of his harshest criticism of Trump on foreign policy to date. “Let me say this as clearly as I can: I never will. For God’s sake, it’s dumb. It’s shameful. It’s dangerous. It’s un-American.”

The next day, the campaign went after Trump again after the former president repeated his threat to NATO members. The email, sent with the subject line, “In Case Y’all Thought Trump Was Joking About NATO: He Is Not,” said nobody should be fooled into thinking that Trump is simply “kidding.”

And when Trump appeared to mock his GOP rival Nikki Haley’s husband, a National Guardsman, for his deployment abroad (“What happened to her husband? Where is he? He’s gone,” Trump taunted at a campaign rally), Biden quickly slammed those comments on X.

“The answer is that Major Haley is abroad, serving his country right now. We know he thinks our troops are ‘suckers,’ but this guy wouldn’t know service to his country if it slapped him in the face,” Biden’s post said.

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