Biden Faces Campaign Against a Rival Who Believes He’s Already President

Former President Donald J. Trump has wasted no time in issuing directives as if he were still in office, despite not yet securing the Republican presidential nomination. His swift re-emergence as the likely Republican nominee gives him the power to spar with President Biden in unprecedented ways.

Trump’s bold moves include promising to repeal the Affordable Care Act, demanding the deployment of the National Guard to the U.S.-Mexico border, and warning congressional Republicans to hold out for a perfect deal on immigration. President Biden has been forced to ponder a campaign question that no president has ever had to consider: How do you run against a man who has already had the job, never conceded his Election loss, and is already acting like he has the job again?

The president’s frustrations boiled over as he fought to save an immigration deal from collapse in Congress on Friday night, which Trump had spent weeks pressuring lawmakers to oppose. In response, Biden threatened to shut down the U.S.-Mexico border under the emergency authority in the deal if Republicans returned to the table and agreed to it.

The deadlock over immigration highlights one of the president’s sharpest cases for re-election, as the border-policy fight steered by Mr. Trump puts on display where his and the Republicans’ priorities lie. This is leading to President Biden’s frustration, as he has been working in good faith to try to get to a deal on the border.

Democratic strategist Dan Sena remarked that the campaign would need to get better, and faster, at countering Mr. Trump in real time, as Trump has the ability to take the oxygen out of the room and frame everything the way he wants to. Trump is also shadowboxing with the current president in other areas beyond immigration.

It remains to be seen whether responses from the Biden administration will prompt Republicans back to the negotiating table on immigration or anything else, now that Mr. Trump is flexing his muscles. President Biden continues to needle Mr. Trump on the campaign trail but faces challenges due to low approval ratings and struggling against pessimism about the American economy and other issues.

As Mr. Biden continues to tackle Mr. Trump on the campaign trail, Republicans may soon be forced to blunt Mr. Trump’s attacks in other areas, including his repeated efforts to rally support for repealing the Affordable Care Act. This is particularly notable as the law has become popular with Americans.

This unprecedented showdown between a former and current president promises to continue shaping the political landscape in the lead-up to the next election. It remains to be seen how the dynamic between Mr. Trump and President Biden will evolve in the coming months.

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