On Wednesday in New Hampshire, Joe Biden dropped his past protestations against the impeachment of President Donald Trump and, well, just went for it.
“To preserve our Constitution, our democracy, our basic integrity, he should be impeached,” the former vice president said of the current White House occupant, adding: “He’s shooting holes in the Constitution. And we cannot let him get away with it.”
Biden had previously indicated that he favored considering impeachment for Trump only if the administration refused to turn over documents to Congress related to the ongoing Ukraine investigation. On Tuesday night, the White House made clear they would not cooperate in any way with the House impeachment probe.
On its face then, Biden’s hand was forced by the White House’s decision not to cooperate at all. And that undoubtedly was a factor! But so likely did this fact: In four of the last five national polls aggregated by Real Clear Politics, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren takes a larger share of the national primary vote than Biden. And for the first time in this race, Warren’s polling average is now above Biden’s — albeit by .2 percentage points.
What those numbers mean is that Biden is really starting to feel the heat from Warren. While she has been rising in polls for months now, it’s become clear of late that she isn’t slowing down much, even as she approaches and passes Biden, who has been the race’s frontrunner since the day he announced his candidacy.
And Warren has built her momentum on her embrace of unapologetically liberal positions. That included support for an impeachment inquiry way back in April 2019 in the wake of the release of the Mueller Report. She said late last month that the impeachment investigation should now focus on the pressure campaign brought to bear by Trump and his government against Ukraine.
Biden, by contrast, has played it far safer to this point — blasting Trump as an aberration that the country needs to fix in 2020 but stopping well short of calling for his removal before then. Playing it safe appears to have gone out the window on Wednesday, a recognition that the former vice president faces the very real threat of losing the Democratic nod to Warren early next year.
The Point: The Democratic base wants Trump out yesterday. Biden finally realized there’s no political path to urging caution when dealing with what Democrats believe to be a fundamental threat to the Constitution in Trump.