Joe BidenJoe BidenUN meeting with US, France canceled over scheduling issue Schumer moves to break GOP blockade on Biden's State picks GOP Rep. Cawthorn likens vaccine mandates to 'modern-day segregation' MORE’s campaign plans to double-down on its strategy in the final two months of the campaign, ramping up the argument that President TrumpDonald TrumpUN meeting with US, France canceled over scheduling issue Trump sues NYT, Mary Trump over story on tax history McConnell, Shelby offer government funding bill without debt ceiling MORE owns the coronavirus response and record-high unemployment facing the nation.
During the all-important post Labor Day stretch, Biden plans to hit the road, as he has started to do in recent days, traveling to key swing states to hammer home those arguments.
They also want to underscore a message casting Trump as a reprehensible president unfit to lead the country or command the troops, something Biden signaled at a press conference Friday.
Biden campaign aides and allies say their ticket hit its stride in August.
They believe they made a solid pick for Biden’s running mate in Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisSenate advances Biden consumer bureau pick after panel logjam House passes bill to compensate 'Havana syndrome' victims Harris 'deeply troubled' by treatment of Haitian migrants MORE (D-Calif.), and they’ve been bolstered by staggering fundraising numbers. They also feel confident in polls that show Biden with a solid national lead.
While there is some evidence of a tightening race in key swing states, Mike Donilon, Biden’s chief campaign strategist and longtime adviser, said it was “imperative” for Trump to move his numbers more following the Republican National Convention.
“And that didn’t happen,” Donilon told reporters on a Zoom call Friday.
Another Biden ally close to the campaign put it this way: “Our message is working. We are systematically addressing the biggest problems on people’s minds,” including the pandemic, the economy and racial inequality.
“The polls are stable because the support is real,” the ally said.
Trump has spent recent weeks hammering his message of “law and order,” blasting Democrats for their lack of leadership in cities where he says demonstrations are out of control.
An ABC-Ipsos poll released Friday found that 55 percent trusted Biden to keep the country safe.
The poll also showed Biden leading Trump 56-42 percent on the issue of keeping families safe. Fifty-nine percent said they believed Biden would reduce violence in the country, compared to 39 percent for Trump.
“This is something we will keep highlighting over and over again,” said another longtime Biden ally. “We need to keep saying ‘Look at Trump’s America. Look what’s happened during his time in office.’ This isn’t some mythological time. This is his mess.”
With less than two months to go, the campaign is expecting to send Biden out on the road for day trips and small jaunts to key battleground states including Michigan, Pennsylvania and Arizona. Harris will also hit the road to Wisconsin and other key states.
Campaign aides and allies pointed to Biden’s trip Thursday to Kenosha, Wis., as a success.
It was the first time Biden had campaigned outside of his hometown of Wilmington and the neighboring state of Pennsylvania since the coronavirus outbreak.
Biden was able to meet with the family of Jacob Blake, the Black man who was shot in the back seven times by a white police officer. He also attended a listening session with members of the community and gave remarks where he talked about restoring civility to the nation, a message he has underscored since the start of his campaign.
Biden officials stressed that Biden — who has made the pandemic’s handling central to his campaign — will continue to “follow science” as he travels. In recent days, the virus has spread in Midwestern states such as Ohio and Iowa, two battlegrounds Biden is hoping to win.
The Biden campaign does not think Trump has been able to recast the presidential race.
Donilon said the Trump campaign has been banking on their law and order message to appeal to voters. “It didn’t,” he said. “It didn’t reshape the race.”
Democrats say Biden has to do more than to criticize Trump.
Though his campaign wants the election to be a referendum on the Trump presidency, Democrats say Biden also has to talk about what he will offer in office.
“Democrats have done a good job of telling voters why we should fire Trump. Now we need to go further and persuade them to hire us,” said Basil Smikle, who served as the executive director of the New York State Democratic Party.
But the Biden campaign also needs to play defense at the same time. Smikle said the Democratic ticket needs to “counterpunch daily and paint a rich vision of the future under Democratic governance.”
“Biden and Harris need to keep Trump from having the last word,” he said.
Philippe Reines, a longtime adviser to Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonGOP political operatives indicted over illegal campaign contribution from Russian national in 2016 Clinton lawyer's indictment reveals 'bag of tricks' Attorney charged in Durham investigation pleads not guilty MORE who experienced what it’s like to oppose Trump in 2016, said Biden “should leave nothing unanswered.”
“If Trump accuses Biden of being ineligible to be president because he was born on Jupiter, then pull out the baby photos from Pennsylvania,” Reines said. “It’s not worth the risk of assuming people are too smart to fall for that. They aren’t. … When fighting Donald Trump better to over-respond than under-respond."
“They should also remember how easy it is to tie Trump up in knots,” he added, pointing to Trump’s over-explanation of his visit to Walter Reed last year.
“So while the humane thing to do is help a wounded animal, in this case it would behoove Biden to batter him,” Reines said. “His screeching and squirming will be unbearable to watch, but necessary.”