When will ‘Basement Biden’ get in the game?
Less than six weeks before the election, one of the most profound disappointments among some of Joe Biden’s supporters is that he doesn’t even seem to be trying.
If some Democrats are correct, crushing “The Donald” should have been easy. After all (according to them), President Trump is an impeached, sex-offending, tax-evading, white supremacist, coronavirus-mismanaging, sexist, racist, Islamophobic, homophobic, misogynistic, sexist liar who is wildly unpopular. And Biden has long showed a hefty advantage in the polls.
If all of that’s true, then Biden need do little more than show up, and winning should be a piece of cake — a massive blowout.
But even to some of his cheerleaders, it feels like Biden hasn’t even been showing up. From March until the last week in August, according to news reports, Biden made no in-person speeches or campaign appearances.
On Thursday, Trump stopped by the Supreme Court to pay respects to the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, made a health care policy speech in North Carolina and then flew to Jacksonville, Fla., for a giant campaign rally at the airport.
Biden? He had no public events on his calendar.
When Biden does get out, such as his visit to Charlotte, N.C., on Wednesday, it’s for low-key, understated events. His enthusiastic fans don’t come out by the thousands, hours in advance, lining the streets hoping to just catch a glimpse.
Yet don’t allow some media reports to fool you. I try to watch most of the candidates’ events, and Biden is not the confused, befuddled old man glued to the teleprompter that some edited videos make him out to be. I, for one, anticipate he will largely appear informed and calm during the debates, as he does at his campaign appearances.
So why, exactly, the low profile?
On many days that should be his busiest, from a campaign standpoint, Biden’s often calling a “lid” in the mornings. That means the candidate is telling the media, in advance, that there will be no public events the rest of the day; the press can pack up and come back tomorrow. The calling of so many lids at a crucial phase of Campaign 2020 is naturally stoking rumors. A lid theoretically removes some of the prying eyes of the press from scrutinizing — well, whatever you may not want them to scrutinize. It keeps them from following you to — well, wherever you may not want to be followed.
If it were Trump being so dialed back at this key stage, it likely would be the subject of endless headlines, day in and day out.
But that’s not an issue. Trump looks like he’s running circles around Biden. Whether you believe the precise polls or not, wherever you think Trump’s popularity stands, there seems to be general agreement that he is gaining ground. Thousands come out and wait in long lines to see him; even when he’s not present, there are boat parades and motorcycle parades. He’s said to be picking up votes among blacks, Latinos and police unions that traditionally support Democrats. And then there’s the Black Lives Matter protests and urban violence — or, as I and many others have come to think of them, the “Get-Out-The-Trump-Vote Brigade.”
While Biden apparently spends quiet hours at home, I count 14 in-person rallies on Trump’s September schedule so far: New Hampshire, Michigan, Wisconsin, Nevada, Florida, Virginia and Minnesota and multiple trips to Ohio, North Carolina and Pennsylvania. When he speaks, it’s always a stemwinder that delights attendees. He never seems to go shorter than an hour; it’s often closer to two. In between the all-out rallies, he’s stopping by other campaign events, making policy remarks, taking endless questions from the press — and running the country.
Much to his enemies’ chagrin, Trump looks like, well, a winner.
On Thursday night, six of the seven most recent posts on Biden’s campaign website under “The Latest” were statements about Donald Trump’s campaign rallies, such as:
“STATEMENT BY VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN ON PRESIDENT TRUMP’S VISIT TO JACKSONVILLE”
“STATEMENT BY VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN ON PRESIDENT TRUMP’S VISIT TO NORTH CAROLINA”
You get the idea. The Biden campaign website inadvertently serves as a contrasting reminder of just how many places Trump is jetting off to.
Whether Biden isn’t trying very hard or is simply unable to try harder, if he doesn’t get in the game soon, there’s a growing feeling that he could squander what some thought and hoped would be a slam-dunk election.
Sharyl Attkisson (@SharylAttkisson) is an Emmy-winning investigative journalist, author of the upcoming “Slanted: How the News Media Taught Us to Love Censorship and Hate Journalism” and the New York Times bestsellers “The Smear” and “Stonewalled,” and host of Sinclair’s Sunday TV program “Full Measure.”
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