Former Vice President Joe Biden seems to have a unique approach to winning the 2020 Democratic nomination: campaign as little as possible.
According to a report in LMT Online, Biden’s campaign is now one of “limited exposure,” and, unlike his competitors for the 2020 nomination, he’ll actually take most of Memorial Day weekend off, preferring to take time out of the spotlight rather than press the flesh and march in parades — the activities typically required of anyone running for public office on a national holiday.
“With near universal name recognition and high favorability ratings among Democrats, the former vice president does not need to introduce himself to voters like nearly every other candidate. And as the leader in early polls, he can attract media attention without splashy events,” the campaign explained to LMT.
Instead of holding town hall events in Iowa gymnasiums, Biden is opting for high-dollar fundraisers, no doubt in preparation for a much larger, sustained campaign, and under the assumption that there are no close competitors for the Democratic nomination. He’s safely ahead of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in most national polls, and beyond that, no Democratic contender is even coming close. The rest of the field is, at the moment, campaigning to be noticed by Vice President-pickers.
The system might work for Biden now, but it has its pros and cons. One one hand, it limits the gaffe-prone Biden from encountering opportunities to speak off-the-cuff, and keeps the 76-year-old Biden from surprising crowds who are looking to spend time with “Uncle Joe” with “Grandpa Joe,” as one rival campaign put it. But Biden also runs the risk of tanking his own name recognition and insulting voters in places like Iowa, where voters and caucus-goers tend to reward what they see as hard work and attention.
The difference between Biden and the rest of the field is stark:
Since entering the race four weeks ago, Biden has held 11 public events, according to his campaign. Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-Texas, held nearly four times that number in the same period, according to schedules. And Gillibrand, who is lagging in the polls, planned 11 stops in Iowa just over the holiday weekend.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., has shown her face to the public at 27 events in the four weeks since Biden entered the race. Booker has had at least 27 events scheduled in the same time span, and Sanders has had at least 17 announced engagements.
And with the exception of O’Rourke – and unlike Biden – all of those candidates have full-time jobs in the Senate that keep them tethered to Washington most weeks.
The older Sanders has also been tirelessly campaigning for himself, holding event after event in what appears to be a slapdash tour of the country, encouraging progressive voters to resist the allure of a moderate Democrat competitor to President Donald Trump.
It may be, though, that Biden has little to worry about, even from the hard-working Sanders. Echelon Insights reports that in head to head polling against the Democratic field, Biden is, well, wasting the competition.