DANIEL VAUGHAN: Operation Remove Biden From The Ballot Has Begun
We're about six months from the Democratic Convention. We essentially have from until now to then to figure out whether Democrats are going to continue riding with Biden, or make a push to get him off the ballot. The special counsel report on Biden was terrible, and the polling fallout is proving to be worse. Democrats have six months to get Biden off the ballot, and the clock started on Thursday.
In public, Democrats are saying the right things. Politico is dutifully running stories about Democrats "rallying" around Biden. The Washington Post tried to brush the report off by saying it said nothing new: Biden is old. Who cares?
The answer is everyone.
Last September, ABC News/Ipsos ran a poll and found that 74% of Americans thought Biden was too old to "serve another term as President, and 49% said the same about Trump." Both numbers are high, but Biden's numbers were remarkably higher.
ABC News/Ipsos ran that poll again this month after the special counsel report dropped. Now, "a resounding 86% of Americans think Biden, 81, is too old to serve another term as president." Even more alarming for Democrats, "73% of Democrats think Biden is too old to serve," and "91% of independents think Biden is too old to serve."
There's no bushing this problem away. And frankly, there's no way to fix it. Politico interviewed several partisan strategists on how to fix the issue. Almost all mentioned speaking to the press in interviews and Q&A sessions.
The problem is that Biden isn't even taking the layups. His staff is skipping a softball Super Bowl interview for the second year. James Carville said of this, "It's the biggest television audience, not even close, and you get a chance to do a 20, 25-minute interview on that day, and you don't do it, that's a kind of sign that the staff or yourself doesn't have much confidence in you. There's no other way to read this."
When Biden tried to get out in front of this the day of and held a hasty, last-minute press conference, it was an unmitigated disaster. He confused the leaders of Mexico and Egypt, which only exacerbated his issues. The Internet turned that into a non-stop avalanche of memes.
Further, this is all happening against a backdrop where Biden has claimed to talk to dead leaders and not know who he is talking to. His staff has shortened his days, and he even skipped the funeral of Diane Feinstein in California because it would have been a quick turnaround for him. He couldn't do it physically.
Help is not coming for the President, mostly because he does not have the physical or mental capacity to help himself.
NBC News claims "no serious conversations" have happened about replacing Biden on the ticket. But anyone with a brain could tell you that's false. In 2016, when Hilary Clinton collapsed leaving a 9/11 memorial event, then DNC head Donna Brazile claimed she immediately began looking at ways to replace Clinton.
If that was true after the primary season, how much more true is it now? No one can get on the ballot and challenge Biden for delegates in the primary. The Republican and Democratic primaries are over, even if some, like Nikki Haley, don't realize that.
That's why NBC News ran a full-length piece on the process Democrats would have to follow to replace Biden on the ballot. The easiest path requires Biden to step aside in the race or resign from the Presidency. "Serious conversations" may not be "happening," according to journalists. Still, everyone on that side of the political aisle looks interested in convention rules surrounding candidate replacement. There's smoke.
If it walks and talks like a duck, don't say it doesn't exist.
The most likely path forward is a private and public pressure campaign for Biden to step aside. A public campaign hasn't started yet. But a private one is likely forming.
Democrats have six months to figure this out. If you're Kamala Harris, you want Biden to hold off a decision as long as possible to allow you room to swoop in and take over. If Biden stepped down now, it would become a total free-for-all ahead of the convention. While there wouldn't be a race in the primaries, there would be a race for delegates as people focused on the coming convention.
Here's another looming reality: Donald Trump leads Biden in most polls and the RealClearPolitics average. This was not true in 2016 or 2020. Biden won't be able to run a campaign from his basement this time. He'll have to fight for this race.
That also includes debates. But it's unclear if Biden's staff believes he can go through with debates now. He can't do a Super Bowl interview, failed pro-longed questioning by a DOJ probe, and is fumbling over every speech and event he attends. What gives anyone the belief he'll hold up under a debate?
The operation to replace Biden is here. The only question left is how Democrats execute the pressure campaign to oust Biden. Which national Democrat will brave the waters first and open the floodgates that allow everyone else to say: "It's time to move on?"
They have six months to figure this out. In political time, that's an eternity away. But in real terms, it's not far off at all. We're already nearly halfway through February. The clock is ticking for Democrats and Biden.