Republicans have been grumbling about Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden hiding in his basement for months, partly because the unusual tactic has worked to insulate him from criticism and disguise his failing mental acuity.
But now, Democrats are reportedly starting to worry that Biden is playing it “too safe” with his mostly virtual campaign.
Biden’s campaign has been conducting digital and phone outreach and has stayed away from the in-person rallies and door-knocking campaigns that President Donald Trump’s campaign continues to do during the pandemic. During a virtual training event over the weekend, Democrat officials from the Clinton and Obama campaign expressed concerns about Biden’s strategy to campaign aide Caroline Grey, The Hill reported.
“From a health perspective, refraining from in-person GOTV efforts is the right thing to do,” a Democrat aide said during the call. “But the campaign is making a big bet that phone calls and texts can supplant hitting the pavement. The president is not making that bet.”
“It goes against the grain of everything about a campaign in the final days,” another attendee said.
Former Obama campaign aides also complained after the call, with one aide saying, “If Biden loses, this will be his not-going-to-Wisconsin.”
According to The Hill, the campaign is using phone banks and new virtual tools like Slack, a VoteJoe app, and the IWillVote.com website to conduct its ground game, boasting 2.6 million conversations with voters since August and 183,000 virtual volunteers.
“Since when has a Democratic strategy of playing it safe ever worked out for us?” one Democratic fundraiser asked. “We like to make fun of their boat parades or door-knocking in a pandemic, but when voters see all this energy out there for Trump, they feel it gives them permission to join the party.”
For his part, Trump has mocked Biden’s “play it safe” strategy relentlessly, nicknaming him “Hidin’ Biden” and saying it makes him look weak to not do rallies or travel.
Narrowing polls seem to indicate that Trump is gaining ground. A CBS/You Gov poll shows Trump is now leading Biden by 10 points with independents, a key segment of voters. Another research study showed that twice as many Republicans than Democrats said they don’t tell pollsters who they plan to vote for, which indicates that there may be more support for Trump out there than even narrowing polls show.
As of Tuesday, Biden appears to have gotten the message. His Twitter account posted a photo of Biden boarding a jet, captioned, “Wheels up, folks.”
Wheels up, folks. pic.twitter.com/zQDCWhpm1v
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) September 15, 2020