- - Friday, August 16, 2019

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Friends and supporters of former Vice President Joe Biden have been gently suggesting to him and to campaign officials that perhaps he should make fewer campaign appearances, thus lessening the likelihood of Mr. Biden making more high profile gaffes, as he did repeatedly last week in Iowa.

Iowa is the first state in the nation to get to exercise its voice in choosing the Democratic nominee for president of the United States. On Feb. 3, 2020, the Iowa caucus will officially kick off the delegate race, so last week all the Democrat would-be candidates were spending lots of time at the Iowa State Fair. It was there that Mr. Biden declared “We choose science over fiction. We choose truth over facts.” It wasn’t his only mistake in Iowa.

The most damaging may have been Mr. Biden’s statement the “poor kids are just as bright and just as talented as white kids.” He tried to do damage control after realizing what he’d said, but for the guy who has been courting the black vote claiming to be the logical heir to Barack Obama it was a gut punch.

Some have suggested Mr. Biden is too old to stand up to the rigors of not only what is sure to be a bruising campaign against President Trump, but too old to handle the day to day stress of the presidency itself. He didn’t help his fight against that argument when he said last week that as vice president he had met with students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School after the horrific student shootings there. The problem with his assertion is that the Parkland, Florida, school shootings happened more than a year after Mike Pence became vice president.

His well meaning supporters are suggesting that if Mr. Biden is in front of crowds less and in front of the cameras less, he’ll make fewer blunders. Publicly at least. Their logic is that somehow by being less accessible the former VP will be more electable. That is seldom how it works in modern politics, particularly when one has literally 20 other people running for the same slot.



As a baseball fan, I’ve watched similar twisted logic be floated by well-meaning fans giving unsolicited advice to their favorite team’s general manager. Often, they suggest trading away today’s top performers in hopes of getting prospects who might be good in the future. Getting rid of a great player hoping that someday what you get in return might be good seems like a futile exercise.

So does trying to silence a U.S. presidential candidate while simultaneously claiming he is the most qualified to engage in a political brawl with Tweeter in Chief Trump.

If those who know and like Mr. Biden the best believe allowing him to speak freely will result in embarrassment, what should the rest of us believe? It has been pointed out that Mr. Biden’s mistakes often come later in the day, sometimes on long road trips. They suggest he needs more downtime, but how much downtime can he get? Mr. Biden is already on vacation all this week in his home state of Delaware. There were a series of articles after Memorial Day this year that pointed out he spent literally half as much time campaigning as other candidates. How much less can he do?

Mr. Trump tweeted “Does anybody believe he is mentally fit to be president?” The president raises a valid question. If Biden supporters think a road trip to Iowa is grueling for him, what can we expect after a 17 hour flight to Asia to deal with China or North Korea?

In Iowa last week, the former vice president confused recently resigned British Prime Minister Theresa May with former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who governed in the 1980s and died in 2013 at the age of 87.

Washington publication The Hill quotes one major Democratic donor as saying, “A lot of people are nervous that he’s lost some of his mojo. They’re getting nervous about him going toe to toe with Trump. But the problem is, there doesn’t seem to be an alternative.”

Actually there are 20 and the Biden camp doesn’t have to look very far over their shoulder to see some of them.

The Real Clear Politics average of New Hampshire polls shows Mr. Biden at 21.8%, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders at 19.3% and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren at a hair under 16%. The most recent among the RCP polls shows Mr. Sanders actually leading Biden 21-15%.

Nationally, the race is even closer. The latest Economist-YouGov poll shows Mr. Biden and Ms. Warren in a statistical dead heat. He has 21% and Warren is at 20%, well within the margin of error. Mr. Sanders is close too, polling 16% among Dems nationwide.

While Biden supporters may be worried, his professional team is giving no quarter. “Joe Biden has spoken his mind his entire life, which voters know and love about him,” said Kate Bedingfield, Mr. Biden’s deputy campaign manager. “He’s a real person, he’s authentic, and that will never change.”

People may love him, but will they vote for him? Those are two different issues altogether. If Mr. Biden heeds the advice of those telling him to essentially hide, he may as well pull the plug on his campaign now.

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