Let Trump Run Against Himself
Democratic strategists are worried that Biden’s virtual campaign strategy of cable news hits (from his basement) and sparse public appearances is not working.
David Axelrod and David Plouffe, President Obama’s senior strategist and campaign manager, respectively, are concerned.
“To win,” they argue, “(Biden) has to find a way to get beyond the basement tapes and project himself into our ever more digital world.” The crux of the argument, it would appear, is that the Biden campaign botched their pandemic response, allowing mayors and governors to “take the center stage.”
“Act like an insurgent, not an incumbent,” they counseled the former vice president.
Conventional wisdom and the standard political playbook would agree. Running out the clock is never option one of a healthy campaign. Playing defense doesn’t win elections. Candidates must control the narrative and insert themselves into the news cycle.
While researching this story, on the first page of Google results, four “people also ask” prompts appeared on the screen. “Is Biden still running for president in 2020, what has Joe Biden been up to, who is still running for president 2020, and who will be the Democratic nominee?”
Biden, for his part, is aware of the panic. “Everybody says, you know, ‘Biden’s hiding,’ but I tell you something, we’re doing very well,” he told ABC News.
But Joe Biden isn’t a perfect candidate. His willingness to compromise may alienate ideological purists, his proneness to gaffes could hurt with independents, and his age might depress youth turnout.
Perhaps, given Biden’s weaknesses, erring on the side of underexposure as opposed to overexposure is the prudent choice. While Biden the candidate may be flawed, the Biden campaign seems to be doing fine. Recent polling in battleground states shows Biden tracking well ahead of Clinton’s 2016 numbers.
Given this polling data, his widespread name recognition, and his low disapproval ratings, why should Biden rock the boat? More isn’t always better. More appearances could mean more “you ain’t black” embarrassments, more off the cuff gaffes, and more long in the tooth moments from the 77 year old elder statesman.
Instead, Biden should allow Trump to run against himself.
Steven Roberts, a professor at George Washington University, believes that “Biden should be quiet and let Trump work against himself.”
Meanwhile, President Trump is engaged in an ever-raging battle to one-up his administration’s own malfeasance. Reeling from almost 110,000 American deaths from the pandemic, President Trump is offering a master class in how to bungle a national tragedy.
President Trump equated the protestors to “thugs” who would be met with “vicious dogs” and “ominous weapons.” He seemed to suggest that protestors would be killed when he tweeted that “when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” which Twitter flagged for glorifying violence.
Then, the St. John’s incident. Here are two self-explanatory headlines: “Protestors Dispersed With Tear Gas So Trump Could Pose At Church” and “Military Helicopters Descend On Washington In Bizarre Very Low-Altitude Show Of Force: Using military helicopters to intimidate U.S. citizens is certainly a new tactic in the ongoing crisis.”
Allowing Trump to self-destruct is paying dividends for Biden. “Biden is playing it wisely by allowing Trump to run against himself, and staying a bit behind the scenes has helped him,” the head of Zogby Strategies Polling noted.
Trump’s in trouble. Of all the warning signs — and there are plenty — two stood out. A recent survey has Biden leading in Texas, and Biden is currently enjoying a double digit lead among voters over 65. Either trend coming to fruition this year signals trouble for Trump’s presidency. Both would end it.
Democratic voters are anxious. They see Biden isn’t operating a traditional campaign. But Biden doesn’t have to win the presidency if Trump loses it.
“Joe Biden is not hiding. He’s lurking,” Michelle Cottle explained. “Never get in the way of an incumbent who is digging his own grave.”