More than a dozen Democratic candidates are vying for the 2020 presidential nomination, but former Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) said Joe Biden is bound to be the real contender.

“I think that strikes fear in a lot of Republicans,” Flake, now a CBS News contributor, told the network Tuesday, speaking about the likelihood that the former vice president will run. “He can speak to those states that President Trump won ― the Rust Belt in particular ― and he’s seen as more of a centrist.”

Flake pointed to the Democrat’s decades of experience as a senator, calling his potential candidacy “certainly one that worries Republicans.”

"Joe Biden strikes fear in a lot of Republicans. He can speak to those states that Pres. Trump won… and he’s seen as more of a centrist. He knows how to work with the Senate, with the Congress, and I think that’s certainly one that worries Republicans." — @JeffFlake pic.twitter.com/b1IcZxOBr1

— CBS This Morning (@CBSThisMorning) March 12, 2019

A Monmouth University poll conducted earlier this month and released Monday indicated 28 percent of Democratic voters currently support Biden, followed by 25 percent who support Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who announced his candidacy in February. The remainder of those seeking the party’s nomination polled at 10 percent or less. Pollsters contacted 802 adults by phone in a national random sample for the survey, and the results were based on 746 of those individuals who were registered voters.

The data should be interpreted with a healthy dose of skepticism this early in the election cycle, but it’s a hint at how Biden’s campaign could fare once he makes his all-but-certain announcement.

On Tuesday, Biden teased a run while speaking to the International Association of Firefighters, thanking the union’s members for publicly supporting him and telling them to “save it a little longer” because “I might need it in a few weeks.”

"I appreciate the energy you showed when I got up here," former Vice Pres. Joe Biden says to applause at a firefighters convention."Save it a little longer, I might need it in a few weeks." https://t.co/NkJuIoh4fP pic.twitter.com/ENPaY5hlAg

— ABC News (@ABC) March 12, 2019

Since the 1970s, the IAFF has had a friendly relationship with Biden, and its general president has strongly encouraged him to run.

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