Joe Biden has blown it. His era is over. The obsequies for his campaign are pouring in. Michael Hirsh in Foreign Policy thus announced today that Biden’s vaunted experience on the foreign stage has turned out be a lead balloon: ‘It appears many voters across the spectrum don’t want a restoration of anything—including, apparently, US global leadership and the decades-old status quo that Biden is identified with.’
Maybe so. But to conclude that Biden’s campaign is finished may be wholly premature. For a start, Biden is in a place where voters may start to admire his gumption and grit at continuing a campaign that looks to be on life support. A comeback story, like the one Amy Klobuchar is currently enjoying, happens to be something that the media feasts upon. Biden could be next. With almost everyone scoffing at him as a serial loser in presidential races, Biden could be perfectly positioned to stage a comeback.
After a fourth-place finish in Iowa and fifth-place in New Hampshire, where he conceded before the vote had even taken place, Biden is fully aware of the daunting task ahead. On Wednesday, he tweeted, ‘nobody told me the road would be easy, but together we can and will win’. Biden is staking everything on South Carolina and his appeal — until now — to African American voters. Super Tuesday can go superbly for Biden. Right now, Biden is the front-runner in South Carolina — he has a 12-point lead — and needs to land a devastating blow against his rivals to support his claim of electability against Donald Trump.
If anything, he should double down on that argument. Voters are searching for a unifying candidate. He’s it. He needs to remind voters that the whole impeachment imbroglio — and Trump’s subsequent actions, including sacking the Vindman brothers as well as Gordon Sondland — stem from his crusade to dig up dirt in Ukraine. Trump fears, or at least used to fear, Biden. There’s no cogent reason that Biden should be fearful about pointing that out. At the same time, he needs to point out the shortcomings in the Trump economy. Today’s tweet was a start: ‘under Donald Trump: – Job growth has slowed – Manufacturing is worse off – Income inequality is higher than ever He is squandering the growing Obama-Biden economy that he inherited — just like he has squandered everything else that he has inherited in his life.’
Biden also needs to get around more. His campaign is apparently preparing a media blitz that should help him demonstrate that he’s far from finished. He also needs to get into a clinch with Bernie Sanders and pummel him, again and again, as a radical socialist who not simply lose the election, but also take down the Democratic party writ large in November. At the same time, Biden needs to sketch out his own vision for where he wants to take America. What he has run has been a caretaker campaign that is focused on the past, not the future. Invoking the Obama years is no substitute for a plan of action. The nostalgic haze enveloping the Biden campaign needs to be replaced with actual proposals and plans. Until now, he has left a gaping hole that is being ably filled by Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar.
Biden can mount a surge in coming weeks, but only if he goes on the offensive. His detractors are writing him off. Say it ain’t so, Joe.