Let Trump Run Against Himself

Witnessing the Self-Destruction of a Reelection Campaign.

Peter Ramirez
3 min readJun 3, 2020


Illustration by Peter Grabowski.

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…



Peter Ramirez

political science researcher. former valedictorian. reader/writer. host of “Politics Mostly” podcast.