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Home/Articles/Biden Fears His Campaign Could Be Going Up in Smoke

Biden Fears His Campaign Could Be Going Up in Smoke

The former vice president sought Monday to allay fears he’s a frontman for the present national turmoil.

(John J. Kim/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

He said it. 

After ample media jaw-jawing over whether the Democratic presidential nominee would loudly and proudly repudiate some of the present violent protesting in America’s streets, Joe Biden (if briefly) denounced the hard Left on Monday. “Rioting is not protesting. Looting is not protesting. Setting fires is not protesting,” the former vice president said in Pittsburgh, in a rare day trip from Delaware; he has rarely traveled since the dawn of COVID-19 in the United States. “None of this is protesting— it’s lawlessness, plain and simple. And those who do it, should be prosecuted.”

“Violence will not bring change,” Biden continued. “It will only bring destruction. It’s wrong in every way. It divides, instead of unites. It destroys businesses — only hurts the working families that serve the community. It makes things worse across the board, not better.” And, in the signature line of the speech, Joe Biden summed up a lifetime of political appeal: “You know me. You know my heart. You know my story. … Ask yourself, do I look like a radical socialist with a soft spot for rioters?”

It was effective. Still, Biden’s address Monday hardly tied up all loose ends. 

After his speech, fresh polling implied additional trouble for his campaign. Emerson College, respected in the field, released research that found President Trump down only two percent in the contest, with a double digit performance with African-Americans and support among Hispanics nearing forty percent, both surprising. It’s one poll, but it’s startling stuff. Since Biden declared his candidacy in 2019, his duel with Donald Trump has been one-sided. 

Despite press incentives to couch the race as anybody’s game, Trump vs. Biden so far had had all the makings of a rout, and without a traditional campaign, even a boring one at that (a shocking statement on anything that involved Donald Trump). From the president’s termination of internal pollsters last year that showed him to the ex-veep losing badly, to Biden’s astonishing, intimidating comeback in the primary to the Democratic nominee’s record of utter political dominance since crisis opened up in America, it had not been a pretty picture for the White House.

But that’s now plainly shifted. Some partisans in early summer made the case that relative administration restraint on violent protests in America’s cities (including the capital of Washington, D.C.) would lay bare the nature of certain left-wing tactics. Politically, at least, it’s beginning to look prescient. While overdone analogies to the mayhem of 1968 abound — the Nixon-Humphrey race occurred in a time closer to World War I than the current year — it’s clear, now, that some devotees of the Democrats are, in fact, undermining the cause. 

Americans are fleeing the city. Bad news for the donkey: some might argue that’s a tacit rejection of liberal politics. And it’s certainly a reality Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien is licking his chops to exploit. Urban America is almost monolithically controlled by the Democratic Party. And, in a stunning reversal after decades of urban triumph, the city has become a political albatross. Biden notoriously made his bones in his early political life as a sensitive ear on the anxieties, reasonable or not, of white suburbanites. Speculation about senility aside, he would seem to know what’s up.   

That’s why Biden made a tactical error, in later veering off-message— after the initial upbraiding of his own side. He repudiated violence, but then engaged in both-siderism. He implied the canard that anti-fascist chaos has been met with equal, odious might by the far Right. It hasn’t. The most recent, known victim of political violence was a Trump-supporting man in Portland, Oregon. Whatever you think of his politics, he was apparently essentially executed in the streets of a major American city. 

Images of burned-out ruins in Kenosha, Wisconsin permeate cyberspace. Add in, for instance, insane reports (if true) of laser attacks on law enforcement, and it’s not hard to see how this gets dicey in a hurry for the Democrats. The party’s monofocus on police killings of African-Americans, an essential issue, falls flat with the public when there is a failure to also address the larger toxic brew that is the country’s problems right now. So, true to form, Biden strayed further from his initial path by talking, at bizarre length, about Russian President Vladimir Putin and the dubious Russian bounties story, where plenty of regional experts say the dust is far from settled. “Donald Trump is determined to instill fear in America,” Biden closed. “That’s what his entire campaign for the presidency has come down to: fear.” 

The former vice president then declined to take questions, failing to allay fears that he only speaks when he absolutely has to.

about the author

Curt Mills is Senior Reporter at TAC covering national security, the Biden White House and the future of the Republicans. He has reported for The National Interest, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, Washington Examiner, UnHerd, the Spectator, among others. He was a 2018-2019 Robert Novak Journalism fellow, and has been a fellow at Defense Priorities and the Claremont Institute. He is a native and resident of Washington, D.C.

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