Democrats fret over Biden’s lack of counterprogramming
Democrats are worried Joe Biden isn’t doing more to counterprogram the GOP convention.
They acknowledge that President Trump has the advantage of the bully pulpit and that it is difficult for Biden during the GOP’s convention week to win his own headlines.
But they still think Biden should be doing more — in person or even virtually — to try to prevent Trump from getting a large bounce from the convention. And they’re frustrated the nation isn’t seeing more of Biden.
“Has anyone heard anything from Joe Biden this week?” one Democratic strategist said, annoyed by the lack of any real pushback from Biden. “Are we just going to let them say whatever they want and go unanswered? And I don’t mean on Twitter.”
One top Democratic fundraiser added: “They’ve gone silent. … Amazing week last week. But this week? Nothing. … I don’t understand why we have to cede some ground to Trump.”
There are signs that Biden’s campaign is trying to push its way into the spotlight.
On Thursday, hours before President Trump will accept a nomination for a second term, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Biden’s running mate, is set to deliver a blistering speech against Trump over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
Speaking in Washington, Harris is also expected to lay out a plan to contain COVID-19 and “build a different path forward,” according to the Biden campaign.
The speech will come on the heels of three virtual fundraisers and an online event in Michigan with Black women on Wednesday.
Biden on Wednesday released a video statement about Jacob Blake’s shooting in Kenosha, Wis., saying the video of police shooting the Black American in the back made him sick.
“Once again, a Black man — Jacob Blake — has been shot by the police in broad daylight with the whole world watching,” said Biden, who added he had just talked to Blake’s family.
“Put yourself in the shoes of every Black mother and Black father in this country and ask, is this what we want America to be? Is this the country we want to be?”
Biden also criticized any violence in protests, saying “burning down communities is not protest, it’s needless violence, violence that endangers lives … that’s wrong.”
At the same time, some outside observers say Biden should be doing more to respond to the Republican convention.
“They have been very silent and it’s risky,” said Julian Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University. “The GOP is working hard to shape a narrative for the fall — and to paint the Democrats as too far left.”
“Biden needs to hit back very hard, to make sure to see that he is very much the center of his party and the real radical in the race is Trump,” Zelizer said. “The more he waits, the harder it is to dig out of the spin the GOP will unfold.”
Democratic strategist Brad Bannon agreed with that sentiment.
While the “Biden campaign’s laissez-faire, ‘let Trump be Trump’ approach has worked like gangbusters so far,” Bannon said, “it’s time to take off the gloves and be more aggressive.”
“The NFL season starts in 15 days and it’s time for Biden to get out of his prevent defense and start blitzing Trump,” Bannon said. “It’s time for Biden to remind moderate independents that the main course at the GOP convention is just red meat for right-wingers.”
Bannon pointed to a CBS News poll taken after the convention which showed Biden up 10 points — 52 percent to 42 percent, “which is where it was before the convention.
“His 52 percent to 42 percent lead represents the ceiling and floor of each candidates’ support. … This means the race will get closer and it will be time for more direct hand-to-hand combat.”
An NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll out this month found that 13 percent of voters are still in play, suggesting that neither camp can waste any time courting uncommitted voters with almost two months to go until Election Day.
Biden allies say they are aware of the criticism that they need to do more to combat Trump’s message.
“I think a lot of people are feeling more anxious today because that was pretty compelling TV last night,” one longtime Biden ally said, referring to the second night of the convention that featured first lady Melania Trump and included a pardon and a naturalization ceremony at the White House. “I think we all get that people would be scared, but we want people to feel that way. We don’t want them to be complacent.”
The ally said Biden was using the week to reset and plan the grueling post Labor Day stretch of the campaign.
“I assure you he’s not just taking it easy,” the ally said. “He’s making plans for the long haul.”
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