- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala D. Harris returned to the virtual campaign trail Wednesday, but that might not be good enough for some in her party who say the ticket eventually must emerge from the cloistered confines of Delaware and do some in-person retail politicking.

Ms. Harris was supposed to pre-but President Trump’s Republican National Convention address in a speech from Washington, D.C., on Thursday, but it’s unclear when she or Democratic presidential nominee Joseph R. Biden will resume larger in-person events that have been put on hold indefinitely due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“They need to start pretty soon,” Democratic strategist Brad Bannon.

Mr. Bannon said Mr. Biden’s “laissez-faire campaign” to let President Trump self-immolate has worked like gangbusters so far, but sooner or later the Democratic hopefuls need to get out to battleground states.

“Labor Day would be a good opportunity for them to do some sort of joint appearance,” he said. “I think there are ways of doing it. I think they will do it in the battleground states.”

By contrast, Mr. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have been out on the hustings with recent in-person events in battlegrounds including Wisconsin, Arizona and Pennsylvania.

Jim McLaughlin, a pollster for Mr. Trump, said Mr. Biden’s staying off the campaign trail is an insult to Americans.

“The Biden basement strategy is clearly catching up to him,” Mr. McLaughlin said Wednesday at an event hosted by The Hill newspaper. “The American people — they want to see you, they want to touch you, they want to feel you — all that other kind of good stuff.”

Mr. Biden’s team questioned the wisdom of Mr. Trump’s schedule.

“Yes, Donald Trump is out, but out doing what? Out in the Rose Garden … with 100 unmasked people pretending as though COVID doesn’t exist? Is COVID-19 gone?” Biden campaign senior advisor Symone Sanders said on Fox News. “Because we are campaigning virtually in some places doesn’t mean we’re not reaching actual voters.”

Mr. Trump’s allies have relentlessly mocked the 77-year-old former vice president for his comparatively light schedule and aversion to travel.

“I’m speaking to you from an auditorium emptier than Joe Biden’s daily schedule,” Rep. Matt Gaetz, Florida Republican, said at the GOP convention this week as he criticized the “basement-dwelling” Mr. Biden.

The Trump campaign also put up digital “Where’s Joe?” billboards in Wisconsin earlier this month.

Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris both delivered their convention speeches last week from Wilmington, Delaware, after the party had to cancel an in-person convention in Milwaukee because of the virus.

Mr. Biden traveled to Houston for the funeral of George Floyd and addressed Floyd’s death in a speech in Philadelphia in June.

On Wednesday, he condemned the recent violence in Wisconsin via a videotaped address he posted on social media. At least two people were shot to death during protests in Wisconsin after Sunday’s police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man.

Mr. Biden said the video of Mr. Blake made him “sick” and that protesting is a right.

“Burning down communities is not protest — it’s needless violence,” he said. “Violence that endangers lives, violence that guts businesses and shutters businesses that serve the community. That’s wrong.”

Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris spoke to Mr. Blake’s family.

Ms. Harris participated in a virtual event Wednesday with Michigan leaders that was geared toward energizing Black women to vote.

“I wish that we were all together in person, but this is the next best thing,” said Ms. Harris, a senator from California.

In their first joint interview after last week’s convention, Mr. Biden said they can win the election from home if they must.

“We’re going to follow the science, what the scientists tell us,” he told ABC News. “We’ve been able to travel places when we’ve been able to do it in a way that we don’t cause the congregation of large numbers of people.”

As the vice-presidential selection watch was heating up earlier this month, Mr. Biden zoomed by Fox News’ Peter Doocy on a bike in Delaware and joked that Mr. Doocy was his pick.

“I’ve gone around the country. I’ve been to Texas,” Mr. Biden said. “I’ve been around, but doing it in a way that I am not going to have thousands of people show up not wearing masks and infecting one another.”

With absentee ballots getting mailed out in some states starting next month, the clock is ticking for both sides to sway voters in an election that could take place largely through the mail because of the pandemic.

Pollster John Couvillon said Democrats have held an advantage when it comes to mail-in voting in 2020 primary contests, while Republicans are tending to vote in person — whether it’s early or on election day.

“Depending on how fast a state counts its mail-in ballots, I’m treating mail-in ballots this year as an overwhelmingly Democratic domain,” he said.

Mr. Trump has warned that new state laws where voters are automatically sent mail-in ballots are laying the groundwork for a fraudulent November election, while saying it’s fine if voters actively apply to vote absentee.

North Carolina will be the first state to send out absentee ballots for the November election, starting Sept. 4.

“In a sense, it’s almost like Nov. 3 is going to be an afterthought,” Mr. Couvillon said. “In other words, if I’m a Democrat, September is going to be the month to kind of run up the score. Whereas if I’m a Republican, you better hope that you [have] a really good reserve of election-day voters in November.”

• David Sherfinski can be reached at dsherfinski@washingtontimes.com.

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