Totally get that Biden doesn’t want to be seen as hitting Trump when he’s down; there’s more he could do anyway…
With President Trump in the hospital with COVID-19, Joe Biden has pulled all his negative advertising. And while Biden’s still out vigorously campaigning in swing states–he’s in Florida today where he’ll do a Town Hall on NBC tonight–nobody’s really paying much attention, with the focus firmly on the President’s condition, as well as all his usual hijinx even while hospitalized.
I’m pretty sure if I was in the hospital right now and wanted to go for a little joy ride so called up a couple of employees and forced them to take me, I’d quickly be strapped down to my hospital bed before I got the chance. And then they’d have a neurologist and maybe a psychiatrist take a look at me to see if the disease is progressing and impacting me that way, as it’s also known to do that.
Maybe Biden’s is the right approach: we’ve talked a lot previously about the President being the most at-risk politically when the spotlight’s on him.
Keep in mind too that face of the Biden campaign’s response to President Trump’s conundrum belongs most immediately to Vice-Presidential candidate Kamala Harris. Because their campaign’s next guaranteed huge audience event will be the Vice-Presidential debate this Wednesday night between Harris and Vice-President Mike Pence, assuming no more big surprises between now and then.
Still, I don’t get why Biden’s not come out strong and indignant at least about one thing: The fact that Trump put Biden, his wife, and his whole entourage, at risk during last week’s Presidential debate whether the President knew it at the time or not. And whether Trump and his entourage knew it at the time or not, there’s no dispute Trump and his people showed up late to the debate site, didn’t take COVID-19 tests on-site—instead went by the “honor system”—and then did not wear masks throughout the debate. Even though it was an indoor setting. And also it’s something in clear violation of what they’d agreed to when they’d agreed to the debate rules.
So that seems to us like something completely appropriate to talk about. And doesn’t contradict or take away from offering empathy and prayers for the President, which Biden’s also doing. But since the President got sick, Biden’s whole Twitter feed at least has become what seems like an exercise in saying nothing that could possibly been seen as controversial at all about the men he’s running against for President.
Biden doesn’t want to look like he’s attacking Trump when he’s down, which is probably right. Funny thing is, if the shoe—God forbid—was on the other foot, Trump would be making this all about how weak his opponent is, and it’d be impactful. But Biden’s assessing it’d be to his detriment to go down that path even though it’d have been something that’d actually probably have “worked” for Trump politically. Maybe it’s a canny political move and he really thinks this’ll be what works for him. Or maybe Biden’s just a decent human being.
But even with all that in mind, there’s another thing Biden could do: sit down, speak directly into the camera to Americans, as he likes to do, and lay out his plan for combating COVID-19 with a comprehensive national response should he become President. That’s not making hay out of the President’s illness. That’s just laying out policy.
And most of it’s actually already there on Biden’s website. But of course nobody reads policy papers on candidate websites.
So let’s say Biden announces a news conference, re-ups his best wishes and prayers for the President, and then just lays out the most salient points of the pandemic response plans he’s already got laid out on paper but nobody’s really seen. Both from a public health and economic perspective.
That’ll draw a stark distinction between Biden (well thought out plan) and Trump (no plan after months, beyond vaccine race), without directly dumping on the President at all, since that’s something Biden clearly doesn’t want to do right now.
How could that hurt?