Despite the almost backhanded nature of the comment, former DNC Chairman, and former Virginia Gov., Terry McAuliffe, is not incorrect if you follow opinion polls. Biden has been doing interviews and frequent web videos to supporters but has stayed largely out of the way while President Trump deals with the Coronavirus and now tense race relations over the murder of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer.
According to McAullife, Biden should stay as far out of the way as he possibly can and let the Trump-trainwreck happen in slow motion, or so goes his thinking:
“People say all the time, ‘Oh, we got to get the vice president out of the basement,'” McAuliffe told the “monthly breakfast” of the Norfolk City Democratic Committee. “He’s fine in the basement. Two people see him a day: his two body people. That’s it. Let Trump keep doing what Trump’s doing.”
“It’s hard for the vice president to break through,” McAuliffe told the group. “You’ve got the COVID crisis. He’s not a governor, doesn’t have the National Guard. He’s not the president, doesn’t have the briefing room. He needs to come out strategically. And when he says something like he did on race relations two days ago, it needs to have a big impact — thoughtful, and that’s what we’re preferring that he actually do at the time.”
In deference to Biden, the Coronavirus situation has put a damper on the ability of nearly any politician to “breakthrough” the noise of the daily news onslaught. Biden’s chore becomes particularly difficult sitting in front of a camera all day trying to make his case. He’s not talking with many voters because, well, he simply can’t. He’s not appearing before crowds or holding big press conference events, so his reach into the general public is limited.
Still, as McAullife makes the argument, Biden continues to lead in polls around the country. In some ways, that dynamic is unsettling for the Biden campaign because it means the less people see of Biden, the more they like him. Once Biden is out and doing more appearances, he is prone to make more gaffes which could, in turn, diminish his standing.
Just days ago, the New York Times wrote that Biden is “emerging” from the basement, trying to make connections with voters and demonstrate his leadership during these tough times. The Times, as opposed to McAuliffe, argues that Biden’s public appearances are working alongside his basement campaign:
“He’s been present,” Lis Smith, who was a senior adviser to the presidential campaign of Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Ind., said Sunday. “I don’t think it matters to people whether he’s giving an address from his home or from behind a podium. No one in the cities facing unrest is sitting around thinking that the thing that could make this all better is having a presidential candidate in town stoking the fires.”
And while Mr. Biden has self-quarantined in deference to stay-at-home directives by health officials — and to his own vulnerability to the disease, given his age — Mr. Trump has made it clear that he wants to return to something approaching a normal campaign and will resume in-person fund-raisers in June.
Still, for the time being, there are some benefits to Mr. Biden’s surgical approach to the campaign. Less is sometimes more in politics, particularly for a candidate who does not have the platform of public office.
Just as President Trump seems to be eyeing a larger return to the campaign trail this month, Biden also appears eager to get back into the daily grind of fundraising and stumping, perhaps in June. In some regards, the forced isolation means that Biden doesn’t have to be asked about every issue every single day. He can avoid being ambushed, as candidates on the campaign trail in public often are, with hecklers or tough questions caught on video and blasted viral in minutes.
In many ways, the “basement” campaign is a controlled campaign, which still resulted in Biden’s own verbal miscues.
One thing’s for sure. Both candidates, Trump and Biden, are chomping at the bit to get back in front of voters and back on the 2020 campaign trail.