This post has been updated.
In case you needed reminding that the 2020 election is just around the corner, two 70-something men got into a war of words this week over physically beating each other up. These two men just happened to be the current president and the most recent vice president.
I'm loath to overanalyze the verbal bout between President Trump and former vice president Joe Biden, mostly because it's dumb and doesn't really mean much. But if anything, it shows the premium on being as anti-Trump as possible in the 2020 Democratic primary — so much so that a respected former vice president decided this was how he needed to make a name for himself. Biden apparently didn't get enough attention when he said the same thing back in 2016, so he said it again.
And then there's Trump, who often seems only so happy to give Democrats like Biden the profile-raising feuds they crave. Trump is serving notice that most every time one of these potential 2020 Democrats tries one of these stunts, he'll happily stunt right back.
It's a recipe for plenty of manufactured political fights over the next two years. Buckle up.
For now, here's our quarterly breakdown of the top 15 potential 2020 Democratic nominees, in ascending order.
Worth watching: Former HUD secretary Julián Castro, California Gov. Jerry Brown, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Sen. Jeff Merkley (Ore.), former Starbucks chief executive Howard Schultz, Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez (Ill.)
15. Montana Gov. Steve Bullock
If Democrats want pragmatism over anything else, they would struggle to do better than Bullock. A two-term governor of red Montana, he won reelection by four percentage points in 2016 even as Trump was carrying his state by 21. Bullock's main problem is that he's probably too moderate at a time when the party seems anxious for liberalism. But he's interested enough to make a stop in Iowa. (Previous ranking: N/A)
14. Oprah Winfrey
Okay. After plenty of conflicting signals, Oprah says she's out. She said running isn't in her “spirit” or her “DNA.” “If God actually wanted me to run, wouldn't God kind of tell me? And I haven't heard that,” she said last month. I still have a difficult time dismissing this completely, though, given she seemed awfully intrigued by the idea. And people's minds do change. If she ran, she would have an instant base. (Previous ranking: 11)
13. New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu
Here's a sleeper for you. The mayor has gotten plaudits for his stewardship of the Big Easy and his compelling speaking style, sometimes earning comparisons to another Southern Democrat by the name of Bill Clinton. Anyone unfamiliar with Landrieu should read about his May 2017 speech on race. He played down the possibility of running for president this week, though, telling Trevor Noah, “You never say never,” but “at the moment, I can’t see a pathway.” (Previous: N/A)
12. Former U.S. attorney general Eric Holder
This is one of the more intriguing possibilities — and one that appears to suddenly be real. Holder said recently when asked about running for president, “We'll see.” “I think I'll make a decision by the end of the year about whether there is another chapter in my government service,” he said. But this might just be Holder trying to build buzz around his role in helping Democrats avoid another redistricting disaster after the 2020 Census. That effort, after all, stands to be very busy in 2019 and 2020. (Previous: N/A)
11. New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo
Cuomo has more immediate concerns right now, with a newly announced primary challenge from former “Sex and the City” star Cynthia Nixon. (I'm told she played a character named Miranda, but I couldn't be sure, since I definitely never watched the show.) Nixon has never run for office, but Cuomo has always had problems on his left, and he won his 2014 primary with 62 percent of the vote. Cuomo has never really signaled any presidential aspirations, and Nixon will at least give him a headache during a time in which other hopefuls are staffing up and strategizing. (Previous: 10)
10. Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown
Brown's reelection hopes appeared to improve earlier this year when his rematch opponent, state Treasurer Josh Mandel, pulled out of the race because of his wife's health. Rep. James B. Renacci is now in the race on the GOP side, but Brown will be tough to beat in this environment. If he won, like Cuomo, he would have to quickly turn his attention to 2020. (Previous: 9)
9. Former Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick
Patrick has been off pretty much everybody's radar since leaving office in 2015, but he said recently that running for president is on his. “I am trying to think through 2020, and that’s a decision I’m trying to think through from a personal and family point of view and also whether what I believe is going to be on offer by somebody,” he said earlier this month. For a guy who has shown little appetite for running, that's something. (Previous: 12)
8. Former Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe
I've been skeptical of McAuliffe's chances, mostly because of his brief tenure as a politician (only four years as governor, after many years behind the scenes) and his ties to the Clintons at a time when the Democratic Party probably wants to turn the page. But he sure seems as if he'll run, saying last month, “Who better to take on Trump than me?” (Previous: 14)
7. Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy
Murphy said in late 2017 that he wouldn't run, but he sounded less definitive earlier this month, saying merely that he had “no plans to run.” He also said he “can't imagine leaving the Senate until I've gotten a victory on this issue of gun violence.” Momentum for large-scale action after the tragedy in Parkland, Fla., seems to have dissipated, though, and Murphy may be asking himself whether he could do more as president. (Previous: 7)
6. New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand
The formerly moderate Democrat took another step toward the left this week, telling the Nation that she supports a federal job guarantee. That wasn't even something Sen. Bernie Sanders was talking about two years ago. (Previous: 4)
5. New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker
Booker may have the highest upside on this whole list, and he sure looks as if he's ramping up. But his angry, eyes-bulging scene at a hearing after Trump's “s---hole countries” comment felt a little forced. (Previous: 6)
4. California Sen. Kamala D. Harris
Harris is making the kind of visits you would expect from a 2020 hopeful, including to Nevada a couple weeks back — her first early-state visit. She is also headed to Michigan soon, got profiled in Vogue (featuring lots of praise from her colleagues) and is shopping a book. And if there's anything that goes hand-in-hand with a book, it's running for president. (Previous: 5)
3. Former vice president Joe Biden
For everything you need to know about Biden's tangle with Trump this week, read The Post's Dan Balz. (Previous: 2)
2. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren
It escaped many people's notice, given it came a few hours before the tragedy in Parkland, but last month Warren delivered the clearest signal yet that she might run for president. It was a well-crafted speech about her claim to Native American heritage, and it took direct aim at Trump for his “Pocahontas” nickname. It all seemed destined for a stump in Polk County. A sampling: “No one — not even the president of the United States — will ever take that part of me away.” (Previous: 3)
1. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders
Another list; another Bernie at the top. Until he signals he may not run or gets into real trouble, Sanders has the best chance. But that doesn't mean he's got great odds. Given that we could see 15 or even 20 serious candidates, I don't see the front-runner having any more than a 20-25 percent chance of winning. And if things started today, that's where I'd put Sanders. (Previous: 1)