For months, Joseph R. Biden Jr. has argued that under pressure and political duress, President Trump may pursue increasingly extreme measures to stay in power.
In November, Mr. Biden said he feared that “as the walls close in on him he becomes more erratic. And I’m genuinely concerned about what he may do in order to try to hold on to the office.”
In January, Mr. Biden fretted: “He still has another nine or 10 months. God knows what can happen.”
And on Thursday, he added some urgency to his warnings, suggesting that Mr. Trump might try to delay or otherwise disrupt the election.
“Mark my words, I think he is going to try to kick back the election somehow, come up with some rationale why it can’t be held,” Mr. Biden said at a fund-raiser, according to a news media pool report. Mr. Trump, he suggested, is “trying to let the word out that he’s going to do all he can to make it very hard for people to vote. That’s the only way he thinks he can possibly win.”
It was an extraordinary claim for the presumptive Democratic nominee to make about an opponent, especially for Mr. Biden, a former vice president and Washington veteran who prides himself on civility and respect for American institutions, including and especially the presidency.
But as early polls show that Mr. Trump is vulnerable in several key battleground states, and as the president dispenses conflicting and often misleading information at his daily briefings on the coronavirus, Mr. Biden’s remarks amounted to a warning shot that attempts to frame for the public — to his advantage — what may be the ugliest election in recent American history.