Biden allies float scaling back events to limit gaffes

Allies to Joe Biden have been floating the idea of altering the former vice president’s schedule in an effort to reduce the gaffes he has made in recent days.

The allies, growing increasingly nervous about Biden’s verbal flubs, have said it’s an approach that’s been suggested to campaign officials on the heels of the former vice president’s stumbles.

{mosads}Biden has a tendency to make the blunders late in the day, his allies say, particularly after a long swing on the road, like he had last week in Iowa. They say something needs to be done to give the candidate more down time as the campaign intensifies in the fall.

“He needs to be a strong force on the campaign trail, but he also has to pace himself,” said one ally who has talked to members of the campaign team and others in the broader Biden World about how to move forward.

The ally said it was unclear whether the campaign would make any changes to Biden’s schedule, particularly because Biden was criticized recently for not doing as many events as his Democratic rivals. 

“I think you’ll see the same schedule and maybe even more Joe Biden,” one ally said. “Everyone wants to see Joe Biden be Joe Biden. If he’s held back in any way, that’s almost the antithesis of who he is.” 

“I think it’s the wrong approach,” the ally added.

Biden’s age — he’ll be 77 in November — has been seen by some as a liability ever since he launched his campaign earlier this year. While he has been billed by those around him as the most electable Democrat to take on President Trump next year, some wonder if he has the zeal to compete.

“A lot of people are nervous that he’s lost some of his mojo,” said one major Democratic donor. “They’re getting nervous about him going toe to toe with Trump. But the problem is, there doesn’t seem to be an alternative.” 

For now, Biden’s biggest opponent appears to be Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). A New Economist–YouGov weekly tracking poll published on Tuesday showed Biden at 21 percent, leading Warren by just 1 point. She has been narrowing the gap in other polls, too.

“In light of ascending candidates like Warren and [New Jersey Sen. Cory] Booker who seem to be getting a stronger voice, the gaffes give credence to voters on the fence about him even as Trump has normalized worse language in public discourse,” said Democratic strategist Basil Smikle, former executive director of the New York state Democratic Party.

At the same time, Biden retains a solid, double-digit lead over Warren in South Carolina, according to a survey from the Post and Courier newspaper in Charleston and Change Research.

And aides say he doesn’t intend to change his approach. 

{mossecondads}“Joe Biden has spoken his mind his entire life, which voters know and love about him,” said Kate Bedingfield, Biden’s deputy campaign manager. “He’s a real person, he’s authentic, and that will never change. He’s going to keep taking on Trump and making the case to voters about the stakes we face in this election, regardless of how the press chooses to cover him.”

Biden is on vacation this week in his home state of Delaware. 

Last week, he made a series of verbal blunders that overshadowed his swing through Iowa. 

Over the weekend, he mistakenly said he had met with students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., during his time as vice president. The school was attacked by a gunman more than a year after Biden’s term as vice president ended.

That gaffe came two days after he told an audience of Asian and Hispanic voters that “poor kids are just as bright and just as talented as white kids.” 

Biden told reporters after the event that he botched a comment he had made many times and that he meant to say “wealthy kids” instead of “white kids.”

“On the spot, I explained it,” Biden said. “At the very second, I explained it. And so the fact of the matter is that I don’t think anybody thinks that I meant anything other than what I meant.” 

That same day, Biden also erred during a speech at the Iowa State Fair: “We choose science over fiction. We choose truth over facts.” 

Trump has pounced on the gaffes, sensing an opening. He accused Biden of not playing with a “full deck” and later took it a step further.

“Does anybody really believe he is mentally fit to be president?” Trump tweeted. “We are ‘playing’ in a very big and complicated world. Joe doesn’t have a clue.”

But for now, those in Biden World say the former vice president and his campaign have no plans to change up his public events.

“We always knew there was going to be extra scrutiny,” the second ally said. “We knew he was going to be held to a higher standard. But it’s important to let Joe Biden be Joe Biden.”

Tags 2020 Democrats Campaign Trail Donald Trump Elizabeth Warren Joe Biden Joe Biden gaffes
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