After two solid weeks of Democratic primary victories, Joe Biden’s weakness as a presidential candidate has never been more on display.
That’s one takeaway from the immediate aftermath of Tuesday night’s string of wins by the former vice president over democratic socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont — and it’s one big-name Democrats are feeding with their calls to close down the primary contest early now that Biden has established a formidable lead.
In separate interviews Tuesday night, House Majority Whip James Clyburn, a Biden supporter, and Clinton political guru James Carville both pushed for Sanders and the party to put a quick end to the primary campaign, playing the idea off as though no more proof of Biden’s strength was needed.
But on Fox News on Wednesday, former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer had a different explanation entirely.
Democrats, he said, are trying to put Biden in “bubble wrap” before he damages his own campaign — and his party’s efforts to defeat President Donald Trump.
Speaking with Fox News’ Ed Henry, Fleischer, who served in the White House during George W. Bush’s first term, said the Biden campaign is already limiting the candidate’s speaking time at public engagements because “they’re scared about what Biden might do if he’s on there for a long time.”
That’s not the Democratic spin, naturally.
On NPR Tuesday, Clyburn said it was simply a matter of being realistic, and appeared to warn that Sanders could only be getting himself “in trouble” if he continued his campaign.
“I think when the night is over, Joe Biden will be the prohibitive favorite to win the Democratic nomination,” the South Carolina congressman said.
“And quite frankly, if the night ends the way it has begun, I think it is time for us to shut this primary down, it is time for us to cancel the rest of these debates — because you don’t do anything but get yourself in trouble if you continue in this contest when it’s obvious that the numbers will not shake out for you.”
On MSNBC Tuesday, Carville said it was time to “shut this puppy down.”
“Let’s shut this puppy down and… worry about November. This thing is decided.”
James Carville reacts to Joe Biden’s projected victories in Michigan, Missouri, and Mississippi pic.twitter.com/BAAvy7HSLI
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) March 11, 2020
Any honest Democrat would have to admit the party has reason to be nervous about its putative front-runner.
Biden’s gaffes have long been a running joke on the campaign trail, ranging from misstating what state he’s in to what office he’s running for, or even apparently forgetting the name of Barack Obama, the president he served under for eight years.
Biden’s open confrontation on Tuesday with a Second Amendment-supporting autoworker in Michigan just added fuel to the fire.
So it’s only natural for Biden backers to think keeping the candidate in “bubble wrap” out of the public eye as much as possible is their best hope for success.
The problem with that strategy is it doesn’t take into account that the opponent is Trump — the combative campaigner who vanquished a field of 16 Republican primary opponents in 2016 before taking on the Democrat-media complex to upset Hillary Clinton in the general election.
Trump’s campaign proved four years ago that it was adept at finding opponents’ weaknesses and turning them into strengths for him.
It’s doubtful it will be any different for Biden if he’s the Democratic nominee.
And all the bubble wrap in the world won’t protect him from that.
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