2020-03-24 22:52:361 Oct 2018 01:53 AM EST
Joe Biden is in danger of losing all his momentum. Just a week ago he appeared to be untouchable after a sweep of primaries last week. However, the coronavirus pandemic has put campaigning and primaries on hold, leaving the former vice president without a job to do.
Donald Trump is still getting facetime with the public during daily press briefings about the coronavirus after limiting the action of press secretaries during his term. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is also working, this week with a critical vote on the stimulus bill. That said, he hasn't been seen or heard from either.
Trump isn't the only one who is seen very publicly right now in press briefings. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) is getting plenty of facetime as well. But again, he's another one who is working through the pandemic. Biden has no other job but campaigning.
For the past week his only role has just been as the assumed Democratic nominee. He hasn't made many public comments but set out to change that on Monday addressing the nation in a briefing. Tuesday he appeared on ABC's "The View" as well as another briefing, promising that every day he would be offering televised remarks.
What will make it even more challenging is that while the news networks are showing Trump and giving him facetime every day, they aren't doing the same for the former vice president. CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC did not carry his briefing on Monday. They showed Cuomo's briefing instead.
Many are saying Biden needs to be visible right now, as the country is looking for leadership, and many don't see that out of Trump. They see Biden's challenge to be providing large contrasts in style with Trump. He's always been a trustworthy face for voters to rely on, and he needs to give the public that in this very shaky time.
Democratic strategist Jim Margolis said Biden had "walked that line really well, but it's hard," adding, "The task is, are you able to cut through?"
"Are you able to cut through when Americans are consumed by a virus that is in the enws, and that's all that's being discussed, whether on the Senate floor, the White House briefing room, or in emergency rooms?" Margolis queried.
Many are wondering why Biden hasn't used his time away from the campaign to hit the news shows, especially with the public locked in as well, looking for entertainment and information. The veep didn't show up on any of the Sunday morning programs and hasn't been on daytime cable news either, while Trump and Cuomo dominate the airwaves.
On Sunday one of his donors asked how he could take a bigger part in the national picture, and the next day Biden gave his televised speech streamed live from his Delaware home. He slammed Trump's response to the coronavirus, noting it was too slow insufficient. He suggested he should be acting like the "wartime president" that he's been saying he is.
"The whole country is focused on one issue and one issue only," explained Teddy Gff, formerly a top digital strategist for former President Barack Obama's campaign in 2012 and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's in 2016.
"It's certainly going to be very difficult to break through on other issues. But it's essential for the person who's highly likely to be our Democratic nominee to have a strong voice on this issue," he continued.
"Vice President Biden's voice represents competence, strength, and empathy, Giff added, and these are qualities he believes the country is desiring "as we confront unprecedented challenges."
Unbeknownst to the public, Biden reached out to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D), as well as others. He's been stressing his concern and asking for their opinions on how to deal with COVID-19, according to other Democrats familiar with the conversations.
Biden is searching for the right tone and format for his message, and his campaign assured donors and supporters that it's going through, testing different approaches, and working on a strategy using TV and digital formats for showing his personality and criticising Trump.
According to an aide, after "The View," Biden plans to also call into radio shows and take questions from reporters. There's a strong possibility he'll hold a virtual town hall as well and some type of Q&A session on social media.
He was seen on Monday as being sharper than he's been since the virus appeared in the United States. "Let me be clear: Donald Trump is not to blame for the coronavirus, but he does bear responsibility for our response," he said. "And I, along with every American, hope he steps up and starts to get this right."
This is an important messge. Much of the country is not happy with the current picture. They are either sick or worried they will get sick and possibly not able to be tested. They are locked up in their homes, away from entertainment options, work, and their normal livelihoods. Someone telling them Trump could have done better with this abd who can back it up has a greater chance in November.
Biden's advisers and close allies say he is reluctant to take a prominent role and doesn't want to step on the toes or complicate the roles of other leaders at such a difficult time. He did that last year as well during the impeachment process. He and his son Hunter were involved in it, leaving the former vice president as the last major Democratic candidate to back impeachment.
But through his actions, Biden can show the country how he will govern and handle a crisis as president and also the surrogates he will be relying on. His former chief of staff who coordinated the Obama administration's response to Ebola posted a video this weekend placing responsibility for the way the pandemic unfoldedq on Trump. It received more than four million Twitter views.
Margolis noted that the "focus, for at least the short term, is not going to be on the presidential race.' However, he added that "four weeks from now, you have to make sure you're engaging in a campaign that is going to be decided this year. He does not have the opportunity to sort of sit back ad wait three months to see where the whole thing lands."
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