In spite of his record low approval ratings and a series of polls that peg him as the loser in the next presidential race, President Donald Trump reportedly believes that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)—who is seen as a top challenger to Trump in 2020 and currently the most popular politician in the country—is not "a serious threat and would be easy to beat."
Politico reported late Monday that Trump had recently shared this view with "a Republican with close ties to the White House." The 71-year-old president's conclusion wasn't based on politics; according to the anonymous Republican, "Trump was hung up on Sanders' age, arguing that Sanders, now 76, wouldn't have the energy to run another national campaign."
Trump also brushed off a potential challenge from Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), a frequent target of the president's public attacks. "He's always asking people, 'Who do you think is going to run against me?'" the Politico source said of Trump. "I don't think he sees anyone, right now, being a serious competitor."
The report comes as Trump's approval rating remains below 40 percent, according to Gallup.
Although recent polling focused on the 2020 race has shown former Vice President Joe Biden winning over more Democratic voters than Sanders or Warren—with media icon Oprah Winfrey also beating out Warren—since the fall of 2017, the senators have consistently defeated Trump in polls that pit them against the president. A November poll (pdf) had Sanders leading Trump 42 to 36 percent.
Sanders has said he is not taking a 2020 presidential run "off the table," but he has declined to comment any further on his plans beyond this year's relection campaign for the U.S. Senate. However, political observers and analysts have suggested both Warren and Sanders are making moves that indicate they will enter the next race for president.
While Sanders has jumped into his role as the Democratic Party's outreach chair—pushing the party further left and fostering relationships with Democrats, even as he maintains his Independent status—Warren has, as Politico noted after the New Year, "amassed more money in her campaign war chest than nearly any senator in modern history, groomed political connections with Democrats who've been skeptical of her in the past, and worked to bolster her bipartisan and foreign policy bona fides."