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Biden vs. Trump: General Election Set  04/09 06:09

   Barring unforeseen disaster, Joe Biden will represent the Democratic Party 
against President Donald Trump this fall, the former vice president's place on 
the general election ballot cemented by Bernie Sanders' decision to end his 

   (AP) -- The stage is set for November.

   Barring unforeseen disaster, Joe Biden will represent the Democratic Party 
against President Donald Trump this fall, the former vice president's place on 
the general election ballot cemented by Bernie Sanders' decision to end his 

   Biden likely won't secure the number of delegates needed to clinch the 
nomination until June. But without any Democratic rivals left, a general 
election campaign that will almost certainly be the most expensive and among 
the nastiest in U.S. history is underway.

   "It won't be easy. Nobody's confused about that. But we are ready for the 
general election. We are ready for our standard-bearer," Democratic National 
Committee Chairman Tom Perez said. "I'm confident because Joe Biden's values 
reflect the values of the majority of the American people that we can win." 

   In Biden and Trump, voters will choose between two white septuagenarians 
with dramatically different prescriptions for health care, climate change, 
foreign policy and leadership in an era of extreme partisanship.

   At 77, Biden becomes the oldest major party presidential nominee in modern 
history. And having spent most of his life as an elected official in 
Washington, no nominee has had more experience in government.

   But in Trump, Biden is up against an adversary the likes of which he has 
never faced in his decadeslong political career. The 73-year-old Republican 
president opens with a massive cash advantage and a well-established 
willingness to win at any cost.

   Trump's campaign is moving forward with a multipronged attack that mixes 
legitimate criticism with baseless charges and, in some cases, outright 
conspiracy theories. It's similar to the unconventional playbook Trump used 
against Hillary Clinton four years ago with unexpectedly devastating success.

   Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh said Biden will be portrayed as too 
liberal for most Americans, weighed down by questions about his son's overseas 
business dealings and about questionable mental acuity at his age. Brad 
Parscale, Trump's campaign manager, predicted Trump would "destroy" Biden, whom 
the president and his allies have nicknamed "Sleepy Joe."

   "President Trump is still disrupting Washington, D.C., while Biden 
represents the old, tired way and continuing to coddle the communist regime in 
China," Parscale said. 

   Trump's team also believes he can win over disaffected Sanders supporters 
who see Biden as a consummate insider. Shortly after Sanders' announcement 
Wednesday, the president charged without evidence that Democratic leaders were 
plotting against Sanders.

   The Republican National Committee has already assembled an extensive 
research book on Biden. The GOP has devoted 10 researchers to Biden and sent 
hundreds of Biden-related freedom of information and public records requests to 
gather additional damaging material.

   Before Biden can shift his entire focus to Trump, the former vice president 
is tasked with winning over Sanders' skeptical far-left supporters, who have 
trashed Biden's record on trade, criminal justice, corporate America and 
foreign policy. The party's most progressive wing also fears that Biden's 
policies on health care and the environment, among others, don't go far enough.

   For example, Biden supports universal health care, but unlike Sanders, he 
would preserve the private insurance system and offer Americans a 
government-backed "public option" instead of Sanders' signature "Medicare for 

   Biden advisers note that he had already begun reaching out to Sanders' 
aligned progressive organizations, including those focused on young people like 
the Sunrise Movement and the March For Our Lives. 

   Sanders suggested that any full-throated endorsement of Biden would come 
with strings attached. "We are talking to Joe, and we are talking to his team 
about how we can work together," he told CBS "Late Show" host Stephen Colbert.

   In a sign of what he hopes will come from those talks, Sanders said, "I hope 
to be able to work with Joe to move him in a more progressive direction."

   Perhaps Biden's most powerful ally, former President Barack Obama, was quiet 
on Wednesday. Still, the former president and first lady Michelle Obama are 
ultimately expected to help rally the party behind Biden, who served for eight 
years as Obama's vice president. 

   Trump tried to raise suspicion about why Obama had yet to endorse Biden, 
saying: "When is it going to happen? Why isn't he? He knows something that you 
don't know." Former presidents typically don't interject themselves in the 
primary process, and Obama had long maintained he wouldn't get involved until a 
nominee had been selected.

   Biden's status as the presumptive nominee affords him the freedom to move 
forward more openly with selecting a running mate. He's already started vetting 
potential vice presidents, but he had to tread gently with Sanders still in the 

   No more. 

   The campaign's general counsel, Dana Remus, and an outside adviser, Bob 
Bauer, are leading the early weeks of the search process. Bauer served as White 
House counsel to Obama and is married to Anita Dunn, Biden's top campaign 

   Biden acknowledged during a virtual fundraiser Wednesday that his team has 
discussed a faster timeline for announcing his running mate, which 
traditionally comes on the eve of the national convention. But, he added, "It's 
going to take a while to get through the usual vetting."

   Meanwhile, both candidates are staring down the coronavirus pandemic, which 
has turned 2020 campaign logistics on their head. With peak infection rates 
still several weeks away for many parts of the country, the outbreak and 
related economic devastation will play a major role in shaping voter attitudes 
and campaign logistics.

   For now, Biden and Trump are effectively stuck at home like much of America.

   Biden's team suggest that his empathy and experience are right for the 
moment, yet he has struggled to be heard from the makeshift television studio 
in the basement of his Delaware home. The campaign has committed to at least 
one virtual event each day, while Trump has starred in widely viewed daily 
White House briefings about the coronavirus outbreak. 

   Despite the challenges, Biden will move into the fall with a broad coalition 
comprised of working-class white people, older African Americans and even 
disaffected Republicans who have been alienated by Trump's GOP. The Lincoln 
Project, a collection of former Republicans, formally endorsed Biden shortly 
after Sanders' announcement. 

   "As America contends with unprecedented loss, we need a leader who can 
steady our ship of state, bind up our common wounds, and lead us into our next 
national chapter," said group co-founder Reed Galen. "Joe Biden has the 
humanity, empathy and steadiness we need in a national leader."


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