Donald Trump has already begun his attacks on his potential Democratic opponents, slapping one contender with a cartoon nickname, while — in a more dangerous move — threatening to use the power of the United States Justice Department to “investigate” the current frontrunner, former Vice President Joe Biden. Trump made the remarks in a telephone interview with the online magazine Politico on Friday.
When asked about South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg — a surprise contender for the Democratic nomination who now ranks fifth in polling overall, according to the Real Clear Politics average of all polls — Trump quickly dismissed the 37-year-old, who is also the first openly gay man to become a major contender for a presidential nomination.
“Alfred E. Neuman cannot become president of the United States,” Trump told Politico, referring to the boyish, gap-toothed cartoon character who has regularly appeared on the cover of Mad Magazine.
According to Politico, Trump allies say that applying derisive nicknames aimed at political opponents is a key element of Trump’s electoral strategy.
“Trump believes that if you can encapsulate someone in a phrase or a nickname, you can own them,” one Trump associate told the site. “Low energy Jeb, Little Marco, that kind of s*** really diminishes people and puts you in control of them and that’s what Trump is a genius for doing.”
In the case of Trump’s new nickname for Buttigieg, a visual image accompanies the epithet.
Trump on Buttigieg: "Alfred E. Neuman cannot become president of the United States." https://t.co/7G8GmyA2CW
Here is Neuman, the cover boy of Mad Magazine: pic.twitter.com/13ucHniR1I
— Dan Merica (@merica) May 10, 2019
But Trump’s attacks on Democratic rivals took a darker turn when he was asked about Biden, who since declaring his candidacy on April 25 has surged into the clear frontrunner’s spot, leading second-place Bernie Sanders by as many as 32 points in one recent poll, according to FiveThirtyEight.com.
As The Inquisitr reported earlier on Friday, Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani has said that he will travel to Ukraine to push that country to investigate Biden over unsupported allegations that as vice president he pressured the Ukraine government to aid his son’s business interests in that country.
But though that conspiracy theory was debunked by a Bloomberg News investigation, Trump told Politico that he felt it would be “appropriate” for him to discuss investigating Biden with Attorney General William Barr.
“It could be a very big situation,” Trump told Politico — although the magazine reported that “no evidence has emerged that Joe Biden was acting to assist his son.”
Harvard University constitutional law Professor Laurence Tribe, via his Twitter account, said that Trump and Barr were attempting to “weaponize” the Justice Department against Trump’s political opponents, which Tribe said was part of Trump’s “unending abuse of power.”