President Trump tore into Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden calling him “Sleepy Joe” while in Iowa on Tuesday, June 11, and the former vice president reminded him of running against “Crooked Hillary” in 2016.

Trump and Biden unleash verbal attacks in the possible 2020 election preview while traveling the battleground state of Iowa.

“People don’t respect him,” Trump said of Biden after touring a renewable energy facility in Council Bluffs. “Even the people that he’s running against, they’re saying, ‘Where is he? What happened?'”

The president added: “He makes his stance in Iowa once every two weeks and then he mentions my name 74 times in one speech. I don’t know. That reminds me of Crooked Hillary. She did the same thing.” 

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a town hall meeting, Tuesday, June 11, 2019, in Ottumwa, Iowa. (AP Photo/Matthew Putney)
Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a town hall meeting, Tuesday, June 11, 2019, in Ottumwa, Iowa. (Matthew Putney/AP Photo)

At almost the same moment in Mount Pleasant, Biden noted that his staff told him Trump was watching footage of his criticism from early in the day as Air Force One landed in Iowa.

“I guess he’s really fascinated by me,” Biden said. “I find it fascinating.” He started to say more but then stopped himself, quipping, “My mother would say, ‘Joey, focus. Don’t descend. Stay up.'”

Speaking Tuesday evening in Davenport, Biden suggested Trump was an “existential threat to America” and said voters must stop the president’s attempts to elevate his office beyond its traditional limits of power. 

Biden is campaigning again in Iowa on Wednesday, this time without Trump in the state.

For his part, Trump has insisted that Biden is the candidate he wants to face in 2020.

“I’d rather run against Biden than anybody,” Trump told reporters on the White House lawn before flying to Iowa. “I think he’s the weakest mentally, and I like running against people that are weak mentally.”

President Donald Trump acknowledges supporters after speaking at the Republican Party of Iowa's America First Dinner, Tuesday, June 11, 2019, in West Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
President Donald Trump acknowledges supporters at the Republican Party of Iowa’s America First Dinner, on June 11, 2019, in West Des Moines, Iowa. (Charlie Neibergall/AP Photo)

“I hope his presence here will be a clarifying event because Iowa farmers have been crushed by his tariffs toward China,” Biden said. “It’s really easy to be tough when someone else absorbs the pain, farmers and manufacturers.”

Biden added that Trump broadly branded Trump “an existential threat to this country” and said his behavior is often beneath the office of the presidency.

Trump used the visit Tuesday to display the power of incumbency, talking up his administration’s accomplishments on trade and protection of agriculture in a state where both are vital. In Council Bluffs, he toured a plant that produces and sells the corn-based fuel additive ethanol, and he signed an executive order he said would help farmers.

“I fought very hard for ethanol, but you proved me right,” Trump said, adding that he fought “for the American farmer like no president has fought before.”

Includes reporting from The Associated Press.