Biden campaign looks to correct early stumbles

Biden campaign looks to correct early stumbles
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Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenOn The Money: Economists flabbergasted after Congress leaves with no deal | Markets rise as the economy struggles | Retail sales slow in July Congress exits with no deal, leaving economists flabbergasted Trump touts NYC police union endorsement: 'Pro-cop all the way' MORE will take on a more aggressive schedule in the coming weeks, adding more town halls to his schedule on the heels of criticism that he wasn’t campaigning as much as his competitors, say aides and allies close to the campaign.

Biden’s campaign is also expected to make a string of policy rollouts in the coming days, sources say, aiming to shift the conversation after a bumpy few weeks for his campaign. 

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The push will seek to quiet critics who have said Biden needs to do more than cite polls showing he has a strong chance of defeating President TrumpDonald John TrumpUPS, FedEx shut down calls to handle mail-in ballots, warn of 'significant' problems: report Controversial GOP Georgia candidate attempts to distance from QAnon Trump orders TikTok parent company to sell US assets within 90 days MORE to win the Democratic nomination.

It’s an argument particularly important for Biden as he faces challenges from Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisOn The Money: Economists flabbergasted after Congress leaves with no deal | Markets rise as the economy struggles | Retail sales slow in July Trump touts NYC police union endorsement: 'Pro-cop all the way' USPS workers union endorses Biden, citing threat to postal service 'survival' MORE (D-Calif.), who tore into him over the issue of busing during the first series of presidential debates, and from Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenOvernight Energy: Major oil companies oppose Trump admin's methane rollback | Union files unfair labor practice charge against EPA USPS inspector general reviewing DeJoy's policy changes Former Obama speechwriter Favreau: 'Hilarious' some media outlets calling Harris a moderate MORE (D-Mass.), who has centered her campaign on a string of policy proposals that have won her attention from Democrats. 

The former vice president has taken a beating since his comments about working with two segregationist senators — a nod intended to underscore his ability to work with Republicans — and Harris’s pointed challenge at the debate.

Over the weekend, Biden apologized for his comments about the two segregationist senators and sought to clarify a record picked over by his opponents and some Democratic operatives.

Those close to Biden say he wants to try to keep the focus on the present and future — and not his political career, which stretches back to the 1970s.

“He knows people are going to continue to focus on his past, but he’s going to focus on the future,” said one ally close to Biden. 

Democratic strategists say Biden has to continue to do a delicate dance to keep his lead as the frontrunner in a race where Warren, Harris and Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersFormer Obama speechwriter Favreau: 'Hilarious' some media outlets calling Harris a moderate Trump to counter DNC with travel to swing states Progressives look to flex their muscle in next Congress after primary wins MORE (I-Vt.) are at his heels.

“Biden has to thread a needle,” said Basil Smikle, a Democratic strategist who served as the executive director of the New York State Democratic Party. “He needs to tie himself to Obama to win over younger voters and black voters while being looked upon as the pied paper of white working-class voters who have been leaving the party. 

“He’s stopped the hemorrhaging from the first debate, but he needs to be more proactive in his campaign schedule, continue to talk about his allegiance to President Obama and articulate a vision that appeals to moderates who are probably a silent majority among Democrat primary voters this cycle. 

Another Democratic strategist warned that Biden shouldn’t try to “overlearn the lessons of the last month,” even as he adds to a previously lax schedule.

“The campaign is smart to maintain a disciplined strategy to maximize his time and energy,” the strategist said. “They shouldn’t listen to the nervous nellies who say he needs to be in more places. That would be a mistake.”

Instead, the strategist said the campaign should “maximize the times he is out publicly.”

“It means a more disciplined stump speech with inserts that drive news against Trump, and it means policy speeches that show voters what specifically he’d do as president and why he uniquely can get it done, and it means a solid debate to quiet the bedwetters,” the strategist said.

Even those who say they believe Biden is the most electable candidate among the Democrats say the former vice president and his team need to look inward to fix the unforced errors they’ve been making in recent weeks.

“He’s his own worst enemy,” said one Democratic donor. “They say he wants to talk about the future, but he’s the one who keeps talking about the past.”

The good news, other strategists say, is that the Biden stumbles are happening on the early side of the campaign.

“He has lots of time to make up some of the ground that he’s lost,” said Democratic strategist Rodell Mollineau. “This would be somewhat different if it was March 2020, but it’s July 2019. It happened early enough that he can course correct.”