The question comes via my emails, my social media channels, on the tube. Where have you gone, Joe Biden?
Lately, they say, the former vice president and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee is living up to his Trumpian nickname, “Sleepy Joe.”
Last Wednesday, White House adviser Kellyanne Conway ridiculed Biden for working out of his home in Delaware.
“Why doesn’t Vice President Biden call the White House today and offer some support?” she asked. “He’s in his bunker in Wilmington, and I have to tell you, we’re not talking about politics here at the White House at all. We’re talking about ventilators and vaccines, not Biden and Bernie.”
Biden, like the rest of us, is obeying stay-at-home orders, delivering his media and digital appearances from a professional studio in his basement.
He has all but vanquished U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders in the primary contests, and now he has a few precious months left to banish President Donald J. Trump. He can’t wait on a virus whose vagaries no one can completely understand or control.
Campaigning in the time of COVID-19 is tough and treacherous, for sure. The obstacles are physical and psychic. Rallies, fundraising dinners and door-knocking are verboten.
Can Joe Biden overcome that? Jason McGrath, a Democratic consultant and strategist, pushed back on the claim the campaign lacks visibility.
It’s an “overblown, non-story” perpetuated by “people who are not supporters,” he said in a phone interview.
McGrath served as an adviser to the Biden campaign during the Illinois primary but is not currently affiliated with it. He took a break Friday from tending to his young children at his home in Bowmanville on Chicago’s North Side, which he called a “day care, school and two businesses.”
Biden needed time to adjust to the social distancing, virtual new world, McGrath noted. It took three days, for example, for the campaign to build the studio.
The campaign is very active, McGrath said, and he ticked off the ways. Biden has captured “millions of views on Facebook.” A “Happy Hour Town Hall.” Biden has appeared “on Jake Tapper, Jimmy Kimmel, Hispanic radio, cable news.”
“Think about the campaign as a marathon,” McGrath said. “Three days putting the studio together is seven steps.”
It is Biden’s “responsibility,” he said, to call out Trump’s mishandling of the crisis because the president “has avoided the media for so long … other than doing campaign rallies.”
“There is no benefit to hiding the vice president,” McGrath said, “when President Trump is out there making a fool out of himself every day.”
Trump owns the most-watched bully pulpit in the world. Every afternoon he strolls into the White House briefing room to command the airwaves, pontificate and bluster about the “incredible” job he is doing in the war against COVID-19.
Biden must break through at a time when Americans are losing their jobs, homes, businesses and lives. A time when Election Day, Nov. 3, feels like a century away.
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