Former Vice President Joe Biden is struggling to find a way to inject himself into the media cycle, and when holding “shadow” coronavirus briefings didn’t quite work out, he and his campaign planned a series of “virtual happy hour” events, designed to attract younger voters to the Biden for president campaign.
The effort didn’t work, drawing just 2,800 simultaneous viewers on Wednesday night.
CBS News tried to play off the Biden event as “lit,” but social media simply wasn’t having it, particularly given that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Biden’s only remaining competition for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, pulled in between 6,000 and 7,000 viewers for an impromptu livecast earlier in the day.
“.@JoeBiden wrapping up his first virtual happy hour w/young Americans. There were about 2800 simultaneous viewers throughout the chat. #lit,” reporter Bo Erickson tweeted Wednesday night after the event concluded.
“I have more cats staring at me right now,” one social media user suggested.
Many of those who watched Biden’s livecast — aired live from Biden’s “recreation room” in his Delaware home — may not have been Biden supporters. The campaign reportedly had to turn off comments halfway through the event because Bernie Sanders’ supporters had taken over the “feedback” section.
They had to disable the comments because most people were not in fact ridin with Biden pic.twitter.com/kLgbNte3er
— Lorraine (@CrimsonGash) March 26, 2020
Biden’s attempts to re-integrate himself into the headlines have ranged from the bizarre to the downright pathetic. Initially, Biden made the rounds on cable television news programs, critiquing President Donald Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, but aides seemingly pulled the plug on those appearances after Biden stumbled through spots on CNN, MSNBC, and The View all on the same day.
Another strategy saw Biden delivering “shadow briefings” on the coronavirus pandemic from the basement of his Delaware home, which was specially outfitted for the purpose. Biden gave one update earlier this week, then suddenly canceled all further updates, promising to return to the airwaves with his response to Trump’s coronavirus press conference, but providing no timeline.
Both efforts were actually improvements on previous attempts.
“After the March 17 primaries, Biden gave an election night speech from his home, but the poorly lit backdrop and grainy footage made even some of his supporters wince and compare it to a hostage video,” The Washington Post reported this week. “He tried a virtual town hall, which was riddled with technical glitches.”
“I have some sympathy for him because it’s a hard thing. He has no formal responsibility. You can’t go out. You can’t have events. It’s hard,” Democratic strategist David Axelrod told WaPo. “But I think there are things he could do. You can do things that are more interesting than giving poorly produced quasi-presidential speeches.”
If Biden has another idea, he’ll have to execute it quickly. States are now canceling primaries because of coronavirus lockdown and fewer delegates are now available before the Democratic National Committee’s July convention. Biden’s ability to get 1,991 delegates, locking away the Democratic presidential nomination, is in question — so much in question, in fact, that Sanders announced this week that he is staying in the race pending the outcome of an April debate that may not happen.
For now, though, at least Biden can comfort himself with his 2,800 friends.