The Joe Biden campaign announced last week that its candidate would be hitting the campaign trail with a post-convention “in-person” swing through the battleground states.
The Washington Post headlined, “Biden to resume in-person campaigning as race with Trump kicks into gear” and listed four states: Pennsylvania, Arizona, Wisconsin and Minnesota.
The expectation clearly set is that the former vice president would be holding events that look more like a traditional campaign.
Call me underwhelmed, but Biden’s first one involved him reading a speech off a teleprompter to what appeared to be an empty room at Carnegie Mellon University’s Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing Institute.
No clapping could be heard either before, during or after the speech, which is understandable, because the event was closed to the public.
According to Fox News reporter Peter Doocy, there were a few dozen supporters who had shown up outside the Carnegie Mellon building to greet the Democratic presidential nominee, but no one was allowed into the speech venue.
There weren’t even television monitors set up outside.
What kind of campaigning is that?
Couldn’t the Biden team have at least allowed some of his supporters in the room, socially distanced of course? Then the event might have had some life to it.
“After the speech, the Biden motorcade arrived at Pittsburgh Firefighters Local 1, where he greeted a small group of local firefighters and delivered a few boxes of pizza from Mineo’s,” WTEA-TV reported.
As Biden got out of his SUV, someone could be heard in the background yelling, “Hey Joe, you finally got out of the basement!”
Biden did appear to greet perhaps a dozen first responders.
— Evan McMurry (@evanmcmurry) August 31, 2020
I guess that’s something, but it’s a pretty weak foray into “in-person” campaigning.
Biden used his speech at Carnegie Mellon to make the dubious claim that Trump is responsible for the violence in cities like Portland, Oregon.
“Donald Trump looks at this violence and he sees a political lifeline,” the former vice president said.
Really? Then why has he been so quick to send in law enforcement to quell the unrest in those places where he has the authority to do so?
“Fires are burning and we have a president who fans the flames rather than fighting the flames,” Biden argued.
“This president, long ago, forfeited any moral leadership in this country. He can’t stop the violence because for years he’s fomented it,” the Democrat continued.
“He may believe mouthing the words ‘law and order’ makes him strong. But his failure to call on his own supporters to stop acting as an armed militia in this country shows how weak he is,” Biden said. “Does anyone believe there’ll be less violence in America if Donald Trump is re-elected?”
His administration began arresting and prosecuting those destroying statues on federal property, and — amazingly enough — that behavior has stopped.
All these accusatory words by Biden come from someone who has been silent as American cities burned all summer.
Finally, in the last few days, he decided to say something, including condemning the violence in his remarks Monday.
His running mate, California Sen. Kamala Harris, did the same, though her message is diluted given that she actually helped raise money to bail violent protesters out of jail in Minnesota in June.
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) June 1, 2020
On Sunday she tweeted, “I join @JoeBiden in condemning this violence. This can not—and must not—be who we are. Americans deserve a president who will heal our country and bring people together—not fan the flames of hate and division.”
Why the switch from Joe and Kamala?
One very likely explanation is that the political polls have tightened in the swing states following the Republican convention, during which several speakers, including Trump, spoke out against the violence.
The Biden/Harris lead shrank from over six percentage points to less than three, according to a Real Clear Politics average of polls.
If Joe Biden & Kamala Harris actually thought Pres. Trump was responsible for the riots, why didn’t they mention them the week of the DNC convention?
— Lisa Boothe (@LisaMarieBoothe) August 31, 2020
So Biden finally ventured out of his Delaware home to at least as far as neighboring Pennsylvania.
But if Monday’s event was any indication of what his “campaigning” will look like over the next two months, Trump has a great opportunity to carry all the swing states he took in 2016 and more.
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