When Biden calls a lid, Democrats wet the bed — and Trump starts mocking – POLITICO
Trump made a similar crack at Biden’s expense Tuesday in Moon Township, Pa. He gleefully repeated the single-syllable word, to the genuine delight of his campaign aides, who now consider it their favorite new bit from his rallies. In both cities this week, and again Friday, Trump compared his recent barnstorming to Biden’s days at home preparing for events, raising money via virtual events and recuperating.
“I’m working my ass off,” said Trump, whose own weekend golf outings and TV obsession are mocked endlessly by liberals. “I’m in Ohio. I’m in Texas. I’m in Florida. I’m in Michigan. I’m in Wisconsin.”
Friday offered yet more contrast. Biden, who’s been preparing for next week’s debate, flew to Washington to pay his last respects to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, then formally settled down at home just as the lunch hour ended. Trump’s day had him stopping in Doral, Fla.; Atlanta, Ga.; and Newport News, Va. — a schedule FOX Business hailed as “REMARKABLE” in a characteristically flattering chyron.
Trump is keeping close watch on Biden’s movements. In Atlanta, he noted Biden had returned home, again.
“Hey champ, if I lose to a guy — that’s like you losing to a fighter that, you know, hasn’t worked out in the last six months. This guy never goes out! It’s terrible, huh?” Trump asked, reviving his “low-energy” critiques of Biden. “You better make sure I win. I’m gonna be very embarrassed, I lost to a guy that didn’t campaign!”
The gambit: To hear the Biden campaign tell it, his travel schedule doesn’t matter. Aides say the criticism leveled by Trump concerning Biden’s events and his calling “lids” is more interesting to restive or bored social media addicts than to the public at large.
To Biden’s camp, it’s a continuation of the discredited criticism that the shelter-in-place phase of Biden’s campaign would hurt him and help Trump after the pandemic first hit. (Trump needled him endlessly for being “sleepy” and staying in his basement, but Biden’s team has chuckled as he maintained his polling lead). A Biden adviser said it’s fine to let Trump hold big, dangerous rallies during a pandemic. Anyway, Trump’s aversion to telling the truth has taken all the sting out of the attacks, Biden’s staffasserts.
“This is a referendum on Trump, and we’re not playing his game. You shouldn’t, either,” the Biden adviser instructed. “Real people don’t care about Biden’s travel. Fox [News] does. This is not what people are talking about. Look at the polling: It’s littered with hot takes about Biden that have been proven stone-cold wrong time and again.”
It’s true, the public isn’t exactly pining for in-person events. Forty percent of voters— and 51 percent of Democrats — told the POLITICO/Morning Consult Poll this week that they don’t think candidates should be on the road at all because of the coronavirus.
There’s also merit to the observation about media. While Fox News has echoed Trump’s critiques, the rest of the networks have spent far more time on the virus that has sickened 7 million Americans and killed more than 203,000 — as well as Trump’s repeated refusals to commit to a peaceful transition of power should he lose in November.
If Biden’s campaign was sensitive about their early lids, there are workarounds. He could go out for a quick lunch, or afternoon ice cream cone, and chit-chat with voters as the press pool follows. He could keep his travel options open, and not call a lid until later in the day.
Biden addressed Trump’s “sleepy” hits on WRAL-TV this week in North Carolina. “Watch me. Look at him,” Biden said, pointing to Trump’s verbal miscues, questionable medical advice and apparent struggles to navigate a ramp earlier this year.“I’m not the guy who says ‘inject bleach in your arm.’ I do know the difference between truth and lies, between good and bad, between hope and fear. Just watch me. And make your decision.”
A top Democratic pollster agreed with Biden’s campaign, but with a more brutal assessment of the candidate. The person pointed to his penchant for gaffes and rambling storiesas part of the strategy for keeping Biden bottled up.
“The fact is a cardboard cutout could beat Trump. But Biden could lose to him,” the pollster said. “There’s no win in Biden being out on the trail the way Trump wants. The Biden campaign has been smart about that.”
The longer view: Biden is hardly a shut-in. He called a lid at 9:03 p.m. Wednesday; 10:23 p.m. Monday and 10:09 p.m. last Friday, after swings through North Carolina, Wisconsin and Minnesota. The former vice president finished at 3:40 p.m. Sunday, after appearing in Philadelphia for a speech on the death of Ginsburg and the future of the Supreme Court.
Yet he’s built in considerable down stretches. Sundays, there’s church and usually little more. Biden has yet to overnight outside his home. And since mid-August, he’s had at least 20 days without holding a traditional campaign event, though the tally of his public schedules doesn’t account for virtual fundraisers or private strategy sessions with aides.
Trump stayed overnight during a recent West Coast jaunt through Arizona, Nevada and California. While he made a similar overnight trip to Arizona and Nevada ahead of the 2018 midterm election, Trump also prefers to return home for the night after campaign rallies, and did so often during his first run for president in 2016.
So, it’s tempting, if not fashionable, to acquiesce to the “nothing matters” point of view given the steadiness of the race and Trump’s failures to break through. Biden’s strategy of standing aside and letting Trump light himself on fire has been successful. Why change it now?
But some Democrats have grown nervous about the lack of an on-ground presence and, in the case of states like Florida, Biden’s softening voter-registration numbers.
In the end, they’re hoping the polls are right in nearly every battleground state and that antipathy for Trump is so strong it inspires enough turnout to compensate for the relative lack of enthusiasm Biden’s base might have for its candidate.