Time for Biden to blitz Trump
With the national conventions — and basically the summer — in the rear view mirror, the upcoming Labor Day will mark the traditional fall kickoff to the final stretch of the presidential campaign.
The big question looming in the final two months is whether Joe Biden will come out of the starting blocks as a bull or a bear? Will he run an aggressive or passive campaign in the final phase?
The Biden campaign’s laissez-faire, “let Trump be Trump,” approach has worked like gangbusters so far. But as we get into the fall, there is no time for the former vice president to play it safe. It’s time for the Democratic standard-bearer to take off the gloves and be more aggressive. Trump’s shaky hold on reality tends to get even more tenuous when he feels the heat. If Biden puts more pressure on the president, Trump will likely fold like a cheap suit.
So far, the Biden campaign has sat on its lead in battleground states and played a “prevent” defense. As we head into debate season, with Election Day around the corner, Biden has to abandon his “play it safe” defense and turn up the heat to blitz the Trump campaign.
National polls by Morning Consult indicate that the president did get a convention bounce. Trump went into the Republican National Convention trailing the former vice president by 10 points, but Biden’s lead slipped, granting Trump just a 6-point disadvantage. The president improved his position with white voters but dipped slightly with voters of color.
Biden has held a steady lead over the president since the spring. A 6-point lead with a shrinking core of undecided voters is a decided advantage. But the clock is ticking; the Biden campaign should change its approach to reflect the change in circumstances.
The speeches at the Republican conclave were a fact-check checker’s nightmare with falsehoods and half-truths spread wide and deep. But it didn’t seem to matter without an aggressive response from the opposition.
The convention was two months too early for Halloween, but the first two nights of the GOP confab was a fright festival, full of red meat rhetoric for right wingers.
The tone changed in the last two sessions on Wednesday and Thursday, as the speakers tried to smooth out the rough edges in the president’s popularity. The speeches were reminiscent of the “Softer Side of Sears” advertising campaign that the company launched without success back in the 1990s. Sears did very well selling durable goods, like tools and appliances, but its sales were sagging, so it launched an ad campaign to market women’s clothes and accessories. The ads created quite a stir but failed to revive the company’s fortunes. The desperate attempt to make Donald Trump warm and fuzzy will fail too if Biden gets up in Trump’s grill and exposes his indifference to the suffering of pandemic victims, his disregard of those who are unemployed and his callousness towards women.
Wednesday was Women’s Equality Day, so female speakers at the RNC tried to close the massive gender gap against Trump by showing the softer side of Donald Trump. A few of the speakers, like Kellyanne Conway, even dressed in suffragette white in an attempt to make their point. But no amount of last-minute pandering to women will erase Trump’s record with them. But, again, the Biden campaign must aggressively push back.
The back-to-back Morning Consult surveys show that the hard edge attacks against Biden worked better than the attempt to show the softer side of Trump. The GOP candidate’s acceptance speech hit Biden much harder than the punches the Democrat standard bearer landed on the president on the last night of the Democratic National Convention. Trump’s negatives didn’t go down, but Biden’s personal rating took a hit last week. The Biden campaign should learn the lesson and take the gloves off.
There’s a strong case to be made against the president’s performance. Donald Trump is the shaky leader of a party without a platform and without a plan to fight the coronavirus pandemic that has killed 180,000 Americans and pushed millions of others into unemployment or bankruptcy.
Joe Biden has big plans to fight the pandemic, build the economy back even better, promote racial equality and fight climate change. Make the case against the president, and Americans will render the right verdict; Donald Trump will be found guilty as charged.
Brad Bannon is a Democratic pollster and CEO of Bannon Communications Research. He is also the host of a radio podcast “Dateline D.C. With Brad Bannon” that airs on the Progressive Voices Network. Follow him on Twitter @BradBannon.