Trump attacks ‘stupid’ Biden and ‘nasty son of a bitch’ Schumer hours before State of the Union speech on unity

President lashes out at Democrat 2020 challengers at private lunch for television anchors

Peter Baker,Michael M. Grynbaum
Wednesday 06 February 2019 09:25
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State of the Union: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez refuses to stand after Trump's call for unity

For public consumption, President Donald Trump planned to use his State of the Union address on Tuesday night to appeal for bipartisan unity. But at a private lunch for television anchors earlier in the day, he offered searing assessments of a host of Democrats.

Mr Trump dismissed former vice president Joe Biden as “dumb,” called Chuck Schumer of New York a “nasty son of a bitch” and mocked Governor Ralph Northam of Virginia for “choking like a dog” at a news conference where he tried to explain a racist yearbook photo, according to multiple people in the room.

The White House declined to comment on the president’s remarks.

Energised and blunt, Mr Trump held little back during the lunch at the White House to preview the State of the Union address. As he has in past years, he offered an unvarnished, unscripted view of the political world that went well beyond the heavily vetted speech he delivered to a joint session of congress and a national television audience.

He seemed confident about his chances for re-election next year, breaking down the emerging field of possible opponents with scathing assessments and predicting Democrats would move so far to the left that it would make it easier for him to win a second term.

He said he hoped he would get to run against Mr Biden. “I hope it’s Biden,” Mr Trump said. “Biden was never very smart. He was a terrible student. His gaffes are unbelievable. When I say something that you might think is a gaffe, it’s on purpose; it’s not a gaffe. When Biden says something dumb, it’s because he’s dumb.”

He also expressed a desire to take on Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, whom he regularly derides with the racially inflammatory nickname of Pocahontas because she has claimed a distant Native American heritage.

“I hope I haven’t wounded Pocahontas too badly,” he said. “I’d like to run against her.”

Mr Trump said Kamala Harris of California has had the best campaign kick-off of any of the Democrats so far, a comment he also made in an interview with The New York Times last week.

But he dismissed Howard Schultz, the founder of Starbucks who is exploring a possible independent candidacy. “He doesn’t have a shot,” Mr Trump said. “Not a shot.”

As for the Democratic congressional leaders who have vexed him so much lately, he had kinder words for Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California than Mr Schumer. Ms Pelosi, he said, is nice to him in private but then says terrible things about him on camera. “Schumer,” he added, “can be a nasty son of a bitch”.

He also dismissed Mr Northam, the Virginia governor who is fending off calls to resign from Democrats and Republicans alike after the discovery of his 1984 medical school yearbook page that included a photograph of a man in blackface and another in a Ku Klux Klan robe.

Mr Northam initially confirmed he was one of the two men and then reversed himself at a Saturday news conference where he said he was not actually in the picture, although he had, on another occasion, worn blackface to impersonate Michael Jackson at a dance contest where he performed the singer’s famed moonwalk.

Mr Trump’s draft speech included a passage lashing out at Mr Northam for comments the governor made recently about late-term abortions. But at the lunch, the president also focused on the racial controversy, ridiculing his moonwalking comment.

“Did you see that news conference?” Mr Trump asked. “Could you believe it? He choked like a dog.”

Not every target was a Democrat. He recounted again the story of what he considered John McCain’s betrayal in voting against advancing a measure to repeal President Barack Obama’s health care program. Although McCain has since died, Mr Trump remains upset.

“By the way,” Mr Trump said, “he wrote a book and the book bombed.”

The New York Times

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