Biden Faced His Biggest Challenge, and Struggled to Form a Response – The New York Times

“But when you respond to that,” he continued, “it brings you back down into that.”

Mr. Biden was even blunter, and angrier, in private after news first emerged that Mr. Trump had exhorted the Ukrainian government to investigate him and his son.

“I can’t believe this guy is going after my family like this,” he told Senator Chris Coons of Delaware, as the two campaigned in Iowa, Mr. Coons recalled.

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Leading Democrats have been pleading privately with Mr. Biden and his top aides to aggressively confront Mr. Trump, and expressing impatience with them for not seizing this opportunity to engage him in a two-man race. After all, Mr. Biden had spent months framing his candidacy as a singular crusade to oust an aberrant president.

“It’s time to really respond so everybody hears it,” said Representative Cedric Richmond of Louisiana, a campaign co-chairman. “If someone says something enough, people will start to believe it, and this president gets in his zone of telling a lie over and over again. You have to make sure people don’t believe in it.”

David Plouffe, former President Barack Obama’s campaign manager, was mystified. Mr. Biden should use this moment and become Trump’s opponent,” Mr. Plouffe said. “I don’t understand it.”

But Mr. Biden is confronting an almost unimaginable situation: the president he hopes to challenge is facing impeachment for urging another country to help smear him. What’s more, the House inquiry centers on what Mr. Biden values most in his private and public life: protecting his family and honoring institutional norms.

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