Joe Biden has unleased a furious attack on Donald Trump, calling him “sick” and “un-American” after comments the President allegedly made about US Marines buried in a World War I cemetery.
The presidential candidate claims he rarely loses his temper, but Mr Trump’s comments had pushed him to the edge.
It comes after a bombshell story published late last week claimed Mr Trump insulted fallen American soldiers, calling them “losers” and “suckers”.
The article, published in The Atlantic, alleged Mr Trump made the remarks during a trip to France in 2018, which commemorated the 100th anniversary of the armistice that ended World War I.
“Why should I go to that cemetery? It’s filled with losers,” the US President reportedly said on the morning of his scheduled visit to Aisne-Marne American Cemetery. That visit was later cancelled due to bad weather.
The cemetery, at the site of the Battle of Belleau Wood, is where more than 1800 US marines died stopping a German push towards Paris in 1918.
In a different conversation, Mr Trump allegedly called the soldiers “suckers”.
In response, his political rival Mr Biden posted videos of US servicemen and women firing up the President.
In his own scathing attack, Mr Biden said the President’s comments showed he was “unfit for the role of commander-in-chief”.
“President Trump has demonstrated he has no sense of service, no loyalty to any cause other than himself,” he said in a campaign speech. “I just think it is sick, it is deplorable, it is so un-American, it is so unpatriotic.”
“Who the heck does he think he is? I’m always cautioned not to lose my temper. This is as close as I think I’ve come in this campaign. It’s just a marker of how deeply President Trump and I disagree.”
Mr Biden turned personal in mentioning his son Beau, a US military veteran and former Delaware attorney general who died of cancer in 2015.
When Beau “went to Iraq for a year, and won the Bronze Star and other commendations, he wasn’t a sucker,” Mr Biden said.
Mr Trump fired back later from the White House, accusing reporters of playing softball with his Democratic rival.
“I look at the level of question that you people ask, I mean, honestly, it’s disgraceful,” Mr Trump railed. “They were like, meant for a child.”
Mr Trump’s backlash to the story in The Atlantic was swift, and he sent a barrage of tweets to defend himself last week.
“The Atlantic magazine is dying, like most magazines, so they make up a fake story in order to gain some relevance,” wrote the President, who went on to assail the report as “a disgrace” in a briefing to White House reporters.
Mr Trump’s allies launched a counteroffensive, flooding social media with images of the President in company of US soldiers – but others were quick to dig up campaign comments from 2016 when he mocked late senator John McCain, a prisoner of war for years in Vietnam.
Friday could see Mr Trump and Mr Biden come face-to-face, as both have scheduled appearances in Shanksville, Pennsylvania to mark the 19th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
Asked if he would share a stage with Mr Trump if invited, Mr Biden said yes: “He is still the President of the United States.”