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Undecided 36%
Elizabeth Warren22%
Joe Biden13%
Bernie Sanders8%
Kamala Harris8%

Fri Apr 26, 2019, 08:22 PM

 

Biden Enters The Race As The Clear Frontrunner

{Program Note: Due to dealing with ongoing automotive problems, I was not able to do a full Friday Talking Points column today, so my apologies for the lack. Instead, I did have time to write the following extensive overview of what Joe Biden's entry has already meant for the Democratic presidential nomination race. It's not a full wrapup of the week, I realize, but it'll have to do for today. By next Friday, hopefully we'll be back up and running (both figuratively and literally, for the car) for our usual Friday Talking Points column.}

Former Vice President Joe Biden entered the 2020 Democratic presidential field as the clear frontrunner, which is a new experience for him. In his previous two runs for president, he never got to where he is now: comfortably leading the entire pack. Biden is polling ahead of the previous frontrunner Bernie Sanders by anywhere from a few points to a healthy margin of 10 or more, and both men are far out in front of all the other contenders, who are all struggling to even manage to break into double digits in the polls.

Add to that today's breaking news, that Biden outraised everyone else in his first 24 hours, and Biden has -- for now, at least -- cemented his frontrunner status. Biden raised an impressive $6.3 million in his first day, topping the other two highest candidates in this metric as well (Beto O'Rourke raised $6.1 million and Bernie Sanders raised $5.9 million on their first day on the campaign trail).

But even though he's never had the experience of leading the pack before, Biden is already acting like a frontrunner. His introductory video was a marked departure from the other candidates running, because Biden did not focus on any one political issue or lay out his plans for America's future or make the case why he's the best Democrat to win the nomination. Instead, Biden focused almost exclusively on what the entire election is about for many (if not most) Democratic voters: beating Donald Trump. Biden made the case that for America to remain true to its ideals, President Trump must not have a second term in office.

In particular, Biden spoke about what happened in Charlottesville, Virginia, while explaining why he decided to run for president again:

We saw Klansmen and white supremacists and neo-Nazis come out in the open, their crazed faces illuminated by torches, veins bulging, and bearing the fangs of racism. Chanting the same anti-Semitic bile heard across Europe in the '30s. And they were met by a courageous group of Americans, and a violent clash ensued, and a brave young woman lost her life.


Biden singled out Trump's "some very fine people on both sides" statement and shared his own reaction to it:

With those words, the president of the United States assigned a moral equivalence between those spreading hate and those with the courage to stand against it. And in that moment, I knew the threat to this nation was unlike any I had ever seen in my lifetime.


Biden then laid out the moral case for replacing Trump, calling it a fight for the soul of the nation. If Trump is denied a second term, Biden said, history will record that this was simply "an aberrant moment in time." Biden continued: "But if we give Donald Trump eight years in the White house, he will forever and fundamentally alter the character of this nation."

Biden is making a moral argument; that it is absolutely imperative to deny Trump a second term. The future of our country and the soul of our country is at stake. Those are powerful arguments to make.

Of course, Biden has the luxury of beginning his campaign this way, for a number of reasons. He really needs no introduction to the public, having been Barack Obama's vice president. His name recognition is already the highest of anyone running. He is seen as such a force in Democratic politics that his name was added to all the polling up to this point even though he wasn't running yet. That right there is an indication of strength. And his name's inclusion was justified, since he's been leading all of the polls so far.

Biden's announcement was always going to make the biggest splash, which may be the reason why he waited so long to make it. This way his entry won't be overshadowed by any other campaign announcements, because everyone else has already jumped in the race.

Because he already has earned frontrunner status, Biden didn't have to prove himself to a Democratic audience. Instead of detailing his agenda or trying to differentiate himself from the pack, Biden was free to train his sights on Trump, rather than the rest of the field of candidates. By doing so, he may have reshaped the race, at least for the next few weeks. Biden's powerful video will challenge other Democratic candidates to remember what the ultimate goal of this race is: defeating Donald Trump. That's really what the race for the Democratic nomination is about, and the voters are quite likely to choose the candidate they think has the best chance of taking on Trump, no matter what actual policies the candidate champions. So Biden is already seen as leading on this front, taking the fight to Trump himself and framing the election as an absolute moral imperative.

Of course, there's no guarantee that Biden will remain the frontrunner. Will his first day on the campaign trail be his best, as voters now deal with the reality of Joe running rather than just hoping he would? It's too soon to say, but the other alternative is equally possible at this point: Biden's strength in the polls will add to his "electability" factor, and more people will begin supporting him because they see him as the best opportunity to beat Trump (in part, because so many others are supporting him). It could become a self-fulfilling prophecy, especially if it is fed by positive media coverage.

Biden is quite obviously aware of the electability argument, as seen by his choice of Western Pennsylvania for his first campaign rally. His message to Democratic voters is clear: If you want to win Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin, I am the candidate who can do that.

Of course, the downside to being the frontrunner is that everyone else in the field will be gunning for you. To win the nomination, the other candidates now have to beat Biden, and so they'll be doing their best to highlight Biden's weaknesses to cast doubt on his electability. And there are a number of such weaknesses to be exploited.

The first became apparent with a story which ran in the New York Times the day Biden announced. In it, Anita Hill said that Biden had called her up a few weeks ago in an effort to apologize to her for her treatment in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee back in the 1990s. Biden chaired the committee at the time, and he has never fully apologized for the way the committee treated Hill. He has also never directly apologized to Hill, which he obviously was trying to rectify before he announced his candidacy.

From the Times article:

In a lengthy telephone interview on Wednesday, {Anita Hill} declined to characterize Mr. Biden's words to her as an apology and said she was not convinced that he has taken full responsibility for his conduct at the hearings -- or for the harm he caused other victims of sexual harassment and gender violence. She said she views Mr. Biden as having "set the stage" for last year's confirmation of Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh.... And, she added, she was troubled by the recent accounts of women who say Mr. Biden touched them in ways that made them feel uncomfortable.


Biden's problem, though, is wider than just the Anita Hill episode, because in general he (not unlike Trump) apparently sees apologizing as something a politician should never do because he believes it shows weakness. So Biden has been the past master of the "non-apology apology," in which "mistakes were made," but at the same time, because Biden sees his own heart as always having been in the right place, he can't actually apologize for any of his past behavior at all. So he winds up with some form of: "I'm sorry people were offended," rather than: "I'm sorry I did (or said) that." At times, as Anita Hill just pointed out, this falls far short of Biden offering a real and heartfelt apology. And, as many have pointed out, Biden had almost 30 years to apologize to Hill and did not do so -- he only reached out to her a few weeks before his presidential campaign announcement.

Biden has many other things in his political record many Democratic voters would like to see him apologize for as well, so this test is likely to come up again and again for him (especially in town halls or pointed media interviews). Biden has previously taken positions on political issues which are seen as wildly out of touch with where Democrats are today.

When he first started his political career in the 1970s and 1980s, he staked out a position against busing to desegregate public schools. This wasn't a popular position with African-Americans back then, and it has not gained in popularity over time, either.

Biden authored a "tough on crime" bill which became law in the 1990s, in an era when Democrats were falling all over themselves to prove how tough they were on criminals (because Republicans regularly beat up on them on the campaign trail over the issue). This led to millions getting locked up for what had previously been seen as low-level crimes, which disproportionately affected minorities. Part of this effort was to make crack cocaine insanely more penalized than powder cocaine -- a disparity of 100-to-1. African-Americans caught with five grams of crack got prison sentences while it took 500 grams of powder cocaine to draw the same sentence. Since crack affected the African-American community more than suburban powdered cocaine dealers, this seemed almost designed to punish minorities disproportionately.

Biden's home state of Delaware is the most corporate-friendly in the nation, which is why most big corporations incorporate there. Nowhere is this more evident than the banking industry. Biden wrote a bankruptcy bill while Delaware's senator that absolutely prevented anyone from ever getting out from under crippling student loan debt by declaring bankruptcy, which has contributed to the student loan crisis in the country.

Biden also voted for the Iraq War, which isn't as big a deal as it used to be, but some Democratic voters still cannot forgive such a vote.

Biden has said he regrets some of these past positions, but he swears he was trying to do good when he championed them. In other words, an argument that "the times were different." But again, this often falls short of actually apologizing for taking such positions. Biden will likely be called on the carpet by voters during the campaign for at least some of these things, and it remains to be seen whether he's going to fully support many policy positions that have now become mainstream in the Democratic Party. It's been over a decade since Biden ran for anything, so he's got some catching up to do to where the party is now. To give just one example, most Democratic candidates now favor (in some fashion) the legalization of marijuana. Biden used to be a drug warrior, and it's not yet apparent that he's changed his thinking much on the War On Weed, even though the electorate has gone through a major sea-change on the issue.

So Biden risks being seen as out of touch, although he can probably get over this perception as he lays out exactly what issues he now does and does not support. Just because he was on the wrong side of an issue decades ago doesn't mean he can't have "evolved" on the issue, and he'll have the chance to prove that as his campaign really gets up and running. But he likely won't evolve on all of these issues, as part of his brand as a candidate is going to be appearing as a moderate (as opposed to radical progressive) Democrat. Progressives may not support such positioning, but this may play much better with undecided voters.

Of course, there are three drawbacks to Biden's candidacy that he can do nothing about. He is white, he is male, and he is old. He would, in fact, be our nation's oldest president, should he win the race. And with so many minorities and women in the race, the electorate may be looking for more diversity than Biden can bring to the table. But again, it remains to be seen precisely how big a deal any of this will prove to be with the actual voters.

For the time being, at least, Biden seems to have weathered the storm of being accused of "handsiness." He offered up another non-apology apology on this one, saying once again that his heart was always in the right place and he's just a real physical guy when it comes to glad-handling, but he'll be more respectful of personal boundaries in the future. Biden also likely won't face as much grief over his "gaffes" either, because Donald Trump has completely obliterated the issue of making stupid mistakes of this sort (Trump recently tweeted that the terror attack in Sri Lanka had killed "138 million people," when the island doesn't even have a fraction of that living on it, to cite just one glaring example, where Trump was literally off by a factor of a million). Who cares if Biden has a minor slip of the tongue when Trump drops such whoppers on an almost hourly basis, at times?

Joe Biden entered the Democratic presidential nomination race by positioning himself as the best guy around to actually beat Donald Trump. That, at this point, is a convincing argument and one that the other candidates have barely touched upon. Biden has introduced the issue into the midst of the campaign, and it will now fall to all the other Democratic candidates (either all 20 or all 18 of them, depending on how you count) to make the case for why they would be a better person to take Trump on than Biden.

Personally, I see this as a healthy thing for the race as a whole. None of these Democrats should ever forget for even one moment that the race is not just to beat all the other Democrats running. That's only the first lap, after all. Becoming the Democratic nominee means having to take on Trump directly in the general election. Polls have already shown that this is the overwhelming litmus test among Democratic voters -- to the point where voters admit that they want the best candidate to beat Trump even if that candidate doesn't share their own agenda. Any Democrat would be better than Trump, to put this feeling in the bluntest terms. Democratic voters are looking for the best candidate to do precisely that.

Joe Biden enters the race by directly focusing on this key point. His message is crystal-clear: "We have to beat Trump, and I am the best chance of doing that." Biden still has a lot of convincing to do with Democrats, and he'll have to flesh out his own agenda in the coming weeks. But if he keeps to his central theme of running not against the other Democrats but against Donald Trump, he may not only hold onto his lead over the other candidates running, but he may actually expand it. Biden's entry is going to force all the other candidates to make the same claim -- of being the best chance to beat Trump -- whether Biden himself winds up on top or not. So far, he's got this issue all to himself, but that will likely soon change. Which is all to the good, because the voters really do want to see Democrats start making the case of how Trump can be beat. We're not trying to elect a leader of the Democratic Party, after all, we are trying to retake the White House from Donald Trump. Biden is going to force everyone else to refocus on this key goal, that's for certain.



Chris Weigant blogs at: ChrisWeigant.com
Follow Chris on Twitter: ChrisWeigant
If I were to vote in a presidential
primary today, I would vote for:
Undecided

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Arrow 25 replies Author Time Post
Reply Biden Enters The Race As The Clear Frontrunner (Original post)
ChrisWeigant Apr 2019 OP
CaliforniaPeggy Apr 2019 #1
ChrisWeigant May 2019 #24
DownriverDem Apr 2019 #2
delisen Apr 2019 #3
InAbLuEsTaTe Apr 2019 #5
UniteFightBack Apr 2019 #6
delisen Apr 2019 #8
UniteFightBack Apr 2019 #10
Cha Apr 2019 #14
Demsrule86 Apr 2019 #22
UniteFightBack Apr 2019 #4
delisen Apr 2019 #7
UniteFightBack Apr 2019 #9
Demsrule86 Apr 2019 #13
UniteFightBack Apr 2019 #15
delisen Apr 2019 #17
Demsrule86 Apr 2019 #18
Demsrule86 Apr 2019 #19
Demsrule86 Apr 2019 #16
Demsrule86 Apr 2019 #21
delisen Apr 2019 #11
UniteFightBack Apr 2019 #12
Demsrule86 Apr 2019 #20
Gothmog Apr 2019 #23
highplainsdem May 2019 #25

Response to ChrisWeigant (Original post)

Fri Apr 26, 2019, 08:36 PM

1. Superbly and thoughtfully written, Chris Weigant!

 

You have laid out in the clearest terms, just what this election is about.

Thank you!



If I were to vote in a presidential
primary today, I would vote for:
Pete Buttigieg

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Response to CaliforniaPeggy (Reply #1)

Fri May 3, 2019, 09:33 PM

24. Thanks!

 

Thanks for the kind words! Glad you liked it...

-CW
If I were to vote in a presidential
primary today, I would vote for:
Undecided

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Response to ChrisWeigant (Original post)

Fri Apr 26, 2019, 08:46 PM

2. Biden's Appeal

 

Folks want normalcy. Biden represents that. trump's reelection game plan includes winning Pennsylvania. Biden was born & raised in Pennsylvania. He can win PA. He has a close relationship with blue collar workers. They know how much trump has screwed them. He is well liked by the members of the Democratic Party. He knows what needs to be done. Biden running with a strong progressive Dem woman would be a formidable ticket. My focus is on who can beat trump. Biden/Harris sounds good.
If I were to vote in a presidential
primary today, I would vote for:
Joe Biden

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Response to ChrisWeigant (Original post)

Fri Apr 26, 2019, 09:24 PM

3. ...entered the race, tripped over Anita Hill,and not

 

realizing the extent of his injuries, kept running more and more slowly.
If I were to vote in a presidential
primary today, I would vote for:
Undecided

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Response to delisen (Reply #3)

Fri Apr 26, 2019, 09:31 PM

5. Joe's still a frontrunner & for those favoring the status quo, Joe has to be the top choice.

 

Can't take that away from him.


Bernie & Elizabeth 2020!!!
Welcome to the revolution!!!
If I were to vote in a presidential
primary today, I would vote for:
Bernie Sanders

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Response to delisen (Reply #3)

Fri Apr 26, 2019, 09:32 PM

6. OH yeah you think he's mortally wounded or something? More like a band aid. nt

 

If I were to vote in a presidential
primary today, I would vote for:
Joe Biden

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Response to UniteFightBack (Reply #6)

Fri Apr 26, 2019, 09:40 PM

8. Stumbling and slowed momentum is not a mortal wound

 

If I were to vote in a presidential
primary today, I would vote for:
Undecided

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Response to delisen (Reply #8)

Fri Apr 26, 2019, 09:42 PM

10. And how do you know that his momentum is slowed? How can you possibly determine that at this point?

 

If I were to vote in a presidential
primary today, I would vote for:
Joe Biden

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Response to UniteFightBack (Reply #10)

Fri Apr 26, 2019, 09:45 PM

14. Sounds like wishful

 

posting.. too bad.
If I were to vote in a presidential
primary today, I would vote for:
Joe Biden

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Response to delisen (Reply #8)

Fri Apr 26, 2019, 11:01 PM

22. He is doing great. You wish it were so.

 

If I were to vote in a presidential
primary today, I would vote for:
Joe Biden

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Response to ChrisWeigant (Original post)

Fri Apr 26, 2019, 09:30 PM

4. Anita HIll should of let him have on their phone call. Don't hang up and then bitch about it.

 

Let's get this bullshit out in the open and over with now because I'm NOT talking about this shit for the next year like the got damn muthafucking emails.
If I were to vote in a presidential
primary today, I would vote for:
Joe Biden

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Response to UniteFightBack (Reply #4)

Fri Apr 26, 2019, 09:39 PM

7. Please don't compare Anita Hill to emails. she

 

is a human being with human rights.
If I were to vote in a presidential
primary today, I would vote for:
Undecided

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Response to delisen (Reply #7)

Fri Apr 26, 2019, 09:41 PM

9. I'm talking about people being preoccupied with discussing it and rehashing for the next year.

 

Like what was done with Hillary's emails.
If I were to vote in a presidential
primary today, I would vote for:
Joe Biden

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Response to delisen (Reply #7)

Fri Apr 26, 2019, 09:45 PM

13. So is Joe. I for one am tired of hearing about a 30 year old hearing.grassley and spector were

 

Horrible ...but Joe is her target.
If I were to vote in a presidential
primary today, I would vote for:
Joe Biden

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Response to Demsrule86 (Reply #13)

Fri Apr 26, 2019, 09:48 PM

15. Good point...I was wondering the same thing. nt

 

If I were to vote in a presidential
primary today, I would vote for:
Joe Biden

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Response to Demsrule86 (Reply #13)

Fri Apr 26, 2019, 10:43 PM

17. Biden was the committee chair. We Dems were in control.

 

Harry Truman famously said, "The buck stops here". Taking responsibility is the essence of leadership.

Anita Hill is not targeting Joseph Biden.
She is not obligated in any way to Joseph Biden. Hill is person of character. She did not ask to be thrust under a spotlight and vilified and victimized a second time after suffering through Clarence Thomas's outrageous behaviors. However she saw it through. She did what she believed to be her civic duty.

Hill grew up very poor in a large family strong faith. She and her family could have been utterly destroyed those who orchestrated that event. It was their strength that got them through it.

At this time Joseph Biden decided he wanted something. He seems to not have gotten what he wants from Anita Hill. He can just let it go and get on with his campaign and let the people-ever one of us arrive at our own conclusions.

Those whether passionate fans of Biden's or political supporters and allies can just move on.

I think the ongoing criticism of Anita Hill by those who want something from her is a sign of deep problem in the area of human rights and I choose to support Anita Hill because I believe human rights is the priority and that equality delayed is equality denied.

That is my choice to make. We all get to make our choices.

I chose to support Joseph Biden against charges that he was too old to be president also because I prioritize human rights.












If I were to vote in a presidential
primary today, I would vote for:
Undecided

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Response to delisen (Reply #17)

Fri Apr 26, 2019, 10:56 PM

18. And I really dont give two fucks something that happened 30th years ago . Biden

 

Wrote the violence against women act.
If I were to vote in a presidential
primary today, I would vote for:
Joe Biden

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Response to delisen (Reply #17)

Fri Apr 26, 2019, 10:57 PM

19. I honestly don't care about this.

 

If I were to vote in a presidential
primary today, I would vote for:
Joe Biden

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Response to delisen (Reply #7)

Fri Apr 26, 2019, 10:18 PM

16. So is Joe. I for one am tired of hearing about a 30 year old hearing.grassley and spector were

 

Horrible
If I were to vote in a presidential
primary today, I would vote for:
Joe Biden

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Response to delisen (Reply #7)

Fri Apr 26, 2019, 11:00 PM

21. The emails were at least in this century.

 

It will backfire.
If I were to vote in a presidential
primary today, I would vote for:
Joe Biden

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Response to UniteFightBack (Reply #4)

Fri Apr 26, 2019, 09:42 PM

11. I would suggest she has gotten it out in the open.

 

If I were to vote in a presidential
primary today, I would vote for:
Undecided

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Response to delisen (Reply #11)

Fri Apr 26, 2019, 09:44 PM

12. Ok and how long do you think you'll personally go on talking about it for? nt

 

If I were to vote in a presidential
primary today, I would vote for:
Joe Biden

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Response to delisen (Reply #11)

Fri Apr 26, 2019, 10:58 PM

20. And who cares? Not me.

 


If I were to vote in a presidential
primary today, I would vote for:
Joe Biden

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Response to ChrisWeigant (Original post)

Fri Apr 26, 2019, 11:12 PM

23. Opinion: How Biden can rattle Trump

 

We need to defeat trump.


Voters who watch Biden’s announcement could picture Biden turning to Trump and scolding him that there aren’t “very fine people” on the neo-Nazi side or going after him for lying about a super-duper health-care plan and falsely promising that plants in Ohio wouldn’t close and that a trade war would be easy to win. The mix of disdain and disgust that Biden evidences when talking about Trump not only channels what Democratic voters are feeling but also serves as a coming-attractions reel for the general election.

One can imagine Biden needling Trump before the primaries even begin. “He complimented Kim Jong Un, and even reportedly told a U.S. envoy to agree to pay a $2 million bill from North Korea for “medical care” of American Otto Warmbier?! How weak, how pathetic is that?” or “Trump ripped little kids at the border from the arms of their mothers. How dare he!”

By putting Trump on defense, showing Democratic primary voters just how scrappy he is, using his foreign-policy credentials and displaying the empathy and decency that he is well-known for, Biden might provoke Trump and thereby make himself the de facto Democratic pugilist against Trump. If by some miracle Trump restrains himself, Biden will nevertheless show that he can land body blows and make it that much harder for Republicans to defend the president.

If I were to vote in a presidential
primary today, I would vote for:
Joe Biden

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Response to ChrisWeigant (Original post)

Fri May 3, 2019, 09:38 PM

25. K&R!

 

If I were to vote in a presidential
primary today, I would vote for:
Joe Biden

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