Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Sometimes it sounds like Joe Biden is running against Joe Biden.

The big picture: From Ukraine to Syria strategy to his use of the word "lynching" in connection with Bill Clinton's impeachment, Biden's background often complicates the attacks Democrats want to use against President Trump.

Trump called his impeachment inquiry a "lynching" on Tuesday. Biden tweeted that it's "abhorrent" and "despicable" to "even think about making this comparison."

  • But roughly 9 hours after tweeting that, he issued his own apology for saying in a 1998 CNN interview in which he said Clinton’s impeachment could be considered a “partisan lynching.”

Biden hits Trump for mixing family and government business, but Hunter's past work has made the former vice president a political target for Trump.

  • A career State Department official overseeing Ukraine policy told congressional investigators last week that "he had raised concerns in early 2015" about Hunter Biden "serving on the board of a Ukrainian energy company but was turned away by a Biden staffer," the Washington Post reported.
  • A memo from the Biden campaign said they plan to "focus on the issues that impact people's lives while simultaneously hammering Donald Trump for his unprecedented abuse of power and correcting the record on the mountain of lies Trump and his allies continue to spread about Joe Biden."

Biden can weigh in on Syria, but he has to reckon with the fact that he was there when the red line was drawn and ignored during the Obama administration. As Washington Post columnist Marc Thiessen wrote:

  • "Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine came in the aftermath of the Obama-Biden administration’s failure to enforce its red line against Bashar al-Assad’s use of chemical weapons by Syria."
  • "Assad responded by using chemical weapons on innocent civilians not once, but 16 times. And yet Obama and Biden did nothing, failing to carry out even 'unbelievably small' military strikes — a decision Biden publicly defended."

Biden gets tangled up in the race debate because of his own past record opposing some busing and comments he has made about working with white segregationists across the aisle.

  • In the September Democratic debate, ABC News' Linsey Davis read Biden's own words — from 1975 — back to him: “I don’t feel responsible for the sins of my father and grandfather. I feel responsible for what the situation is today, for the sins of my own generation, and I’ll be damned if I feel responsible to pay for what happened 300 years ago.”
  • But part of his answer on how Americans can repair the legacy of slavery suggested that social workers should intervene in the homes of black parents to help raise their children.
  • Author Anand Giridharadas tweeted at the time: “Is this not one of the most explicitly racist moments of all time in a Democratic primary debate? ... Asked about his past comments denying responsibility, as a white man, for America’s sins, he gives an answer insinuating that black parents don’t know how to raise kids.”

To be sure, Biden's past doesn’t parallel the level of contradictions that Trump's own record presents.

Between the lines: Biden's found himself compromised at times by 40 years of a political record built on bipartisan work and some out-dated conventions that have fallen out of fashion, particularly in Democratic Party politics.

But, but, but: The most recent CNN poll suggests none of this has been insurmountable and that Trump’s efforts on Ukraine may have backfired. Biden took the lead spot among 2020 Democratic rival, at 34%, and has resumed his largest margin since April.

Go deeper

Updated 6 mins ago - World

German election: Social Democrats narrowly beat Angela Merkel's bloc

SPD leader Olaf Scholz. Photo: Alex Kraus/Bloomberg via Getty Images

BERLIN — The center-left Social Democratic Party (SDP) clinched a narrow victory in Germany's historic federal elections on Sunday, just four years after suffering its worst loss since World War II.

Why it matters: It's a stunning political comeback for the SPD, paving the way for its chancellor candidate Olaf Scholz to form a new governing coalition and lead Europe's largest economy into the post-Merkel era.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Liz Cheney: Americans deserve better than choice of Biden or Trump

Rep. Liz Cheney talks with Lesley Stahl on CBS' "60 Minutes." Photo: CBS News

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) told CBS' "60 Minutes" in an interview broadcast Sunday that Americans "deserve better than having to choose between" President Biden's "disastrous" policies and former President Trump, "who violated his oath of office."

Why it matters: Cheney made the remarks after CBS' Lesley Stahl put it to her in the interview that Republicans feel that her joining the House select committee in charge of investigating the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riot helps "keep the focus on Trump instead of on the shortcomings of the Biden administration."

7 hours ago - Politics & Policy

First look: The LCV's $4M ad buy

A screenshot from a new League of Conservation Voters ad supporting Rep. Stephanie Murphy.

The League of Conservation Voters and Climate Power are aiming another $4 million worth of ads at centrist House Democrats, urging them to support the climate provisions in President Biden’s $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Progressive groups are trying to counter the onslaught of conservative money pouring into swing districts. Both sides are trying to define Biden’s Build Back Better Agenda and pressure lawmakers to support — or oppose — the legislation scheduled for a vote in the House this week.