Biden caught in a ‘risky gamble’ as polls near - GulfToday

Biden caught in a ‘risky gamble’ as polls near


Joe Biden. File

Andrew Feinberg, The Independent

How do you run for president against an opponent who doesn’t think the rules apply to him? So far, the answer to it might be, in Trump’s words, “very strongly”.

Just six days since end of last week’s Republican convention, polling released on Tuesday by Morning Consult reveals a race that, in some ways, has remained consistent — much more consistent than the race we saw in 2016 between Trump and Hillary Clinton.

As his campaign readies itself for the Labour-Day-to-Election-Day sprint to the finish, Biden continues to hold roughly the same-sized battleground state leads he held over Trump before the quadrennial confabs last month. And he has gained and maintained those leads while remaining largely confined to his home state of Delaware.

But while Biden’s lead over Trump has remained steady since he became his party’s presumptive nominee in June, Democratic insiders worry that Trump’s apparent willingness to ignore any rule or law that could hamper his campaigning — such as by holding a 1,000-person, Hatch Act-violating rally on the White House lawn during last week’s RNC — will leave Biden open to being marginalised. Trump’s endless thirst for publicity and the way in which he weaponises the presidency, they fear, could inflict a death by one thousand cuts upon Biden’s lead. Those who were contacted for this article remain divided over whether the contrast between the campaigns’ approaches will highlight Biden’s responsibility in dealing with COVID-19 or draw attention to the President’s frame of his opponent as “sleepy,” addled, and lacking in the energy needed to lead.

That contrast, however, was laid bare over the first two days of this week, as Biden stuck relatively close to home, while Trump, ever eager to portray himself as a man of action and a booster of “law and order,” went on the road to Kenosha, Wisconsin. There, he met with law enforcement and toured damage from riots ignited by the shooting of Jacob Blake, who sustained seven gunshot wounds in the back in front of his children. Trump did not, however, meet with Blake’s family, citing the proposed presence of an attorney at the meeting as a reason to beg off such an encounter.

And even as Biden continued with a full schedule on Wednesday, Trump continued to allege baselessly that the former VP was “back in his basement” while the Biden campaign continued to issue statements about the President’s travel.

Michael Starr Hopkins, a Democratic strategist, opined that Biden’s strategy of letting Trump continue to over-expose himself and planning to hit back in the last few weeks of the election is a “risky gamble” that didn’t work out well for Hillary Clinton. Nevertheless, he suggested, it could pay dividends in the suburban districts that elected Democrats in 2019 to the House of Representatives in record numbers.

“I think Biden being in the background is a calculation… The longer he stays in the background, the more dissatisfied suburban women will be (with Trump), and the more fired-up the African American community will be because, frankly, Trump is a piece of s**t and is doing everything he can to foment a race war,” he said.

“In a very twisted way, the election season has played out directly into a framework that works very well for Biden, because he doesn’t have to do a bunch of rallies. He doesn’t have to generate organic support. He just has to keep the Democratic Party together and convince a couple of Republicans and Independents.”

But another longtime Democratic operative, who requested anonymity to speak candidly, said Biden’s reluctance to move back towards campaign events that demonstrate his vitality and base of support — as evidenced by his Monday speech on “Donald Trump’s America” — is Exhibit A for the sort of political error that they believe could cost him the race.

Prompted by a week of unrest in Kenosha and Portland, Oregon — which saw three people shot dead in two separate incidents — Biden delivered a rebuke to Trump’s claim that such violence was a reflection on the America the former VP would lead, rather than the one Trump currently leads. Yet while Trump announced his Tuesday trip to Kenosha over the weekend, Biden’s counterpunch against Trump’s attacks took the far more subdued form of a televised speech delivered in a largely empty former steel mill in Pittsburgh.

“If I were running that campaign, there is absolutely no shot in hell that Joe Biden would not have been in Kenosha (on Monday), but they’re running a prevent defence with three months to go until the election,” said the veteran operative, who added that he would have had Biden hold a press conference with Blake’s family.

“It does have a lot of Democrats worried about what the hell the plan is,” they continued, opining that the Biden campaign’s inner circles are filled with “a lot of the old Clintonworld people and kind of the circle jerks that we’ve seen become the norm in Democratic politics.”

“They’re not allowing a lot of outside voices who haven’t already worked at the DNC or (Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee) or for (Hillary) Clinton before, so there’s not a lot of counter-opinion.”

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