Former Vice President Joe Biden “relaunched” his campaign yesterday with a rousing speech before his supporters in Philadelphia. (How many times is he going to need to launch this rocket with a twenty point lead?) While Uncle Joe had plenty to say, there was much that was missing when compared to the hot chaff streaming out of his competitors’ public remarks. There was no talk of how awful the Republicans are or how they’re ruining the nation. There were few direct mentions of President Trump and pretty much nothing about how the Bad Orange Man is the devil. Instead, Joe Biden risked angering some in his own party by sticking to a message of bipartisanship, unity, and healing a divided nation. (Associated Press)
Taking his bipartisan message to pivotal Pennsylvania, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden is pledging to bridge the deep divide in the country under President Donald Trump and reject the anger that he says is motivating some in his party.
“If the American people want a president to add to our division, to lead with a clenched fist, closed hand and a hard heart, to demonize the opponents and spew hatred — they don’t need me. They already have a president who does just that,” Biden says in excerpts of the speech he plans to give later Saturday in Philadelphia.
“I am running to offer our country — Democrats, Republicans and independents — a different path,” the former vice president says in remarks released by his campaign.
My first observation here is that this was a general election speech, not a primary campaign address. While most of the Democratic field is in a race to see who can dive furthest into the socialist ditch, Biden is skipping over the primary cannibal club and appealing directly to the moderate Democrats and independents he will need to forge into a general election coalition and win back the purple states Donald Trump captured in 2016. He’s clearly decided that he’s not going to hang his hat on far-left programs that would bankrupt the nation and force him to explain how he plans to pay for all of it during the general election debates.
Is he reading the primary voter pool correctly here? This is the sort of message that enrages portions of the base rather than energizing them. It’s potentially also the sort of thing that might push some to the point where they go shopping for someone more like Bernie Sanders. But as we’ve seen in poll after poll, the larger body of Democrats and left-leaning independents around the country aren’t nearly as far left as the media would have you believe. A majority of Americans are still unwilling to elect a socialist president. To hear the pontifications of the talking heads on CNN you’d think that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was running the Democratic Party, but her approval numbers outside her own district are worse than Trump’s.
Biden really doesn’t have to look much further than his own polling numbers to figure this out. He was always viewed as the moderate centrist in the field and he’s quickly approaching 50% support in the primary. If he can make it through the debates and over the finish line for the nomination with this strategy, President Trump will have a much harder time trying to paint him as an extreme liberal in the general election. Biden no doubt ticked off a lot of the more vocal activists in his party yesterday, but I have a hunch that this was a feature, not a bug.