May 20, 2020
It sounds like Joe Biden's going to be in his basement for a while.
Locked in a tight battle with Donald Trump, but with public campaigning frozen by coronavirus lockdowns, the former vice president has been forced for the past two months to make his case to American voters via webcam broadcasts from the basement of his Delaware home.
And while President Trump has emerged from the White House twice in the past two weeks for factory visits in battleground states, Biden remains hunkered down.
Why? "We are listening to the scientists," Biden campaign senior advisor Symone Sanders told Cheddar on Tuesday. "Vice President Biden said just last week he can't wait to get back out there on the campaign trail, but we're going to do so when it's safe."
Biden's basement-based campaign has drawn predictably snarky comments from Trump and his allies, but also has prompted questions from some of Biden's own supporters who feel he needs to be far more aggressive if he hopes to hold on to his narrow lead over Trump in key battleground states.
Earlier this month, two top campaign advisers to Barack Obama, David Axelrod and David Plouffe, wrote a New York Times op-ed calling on Biden to develop a more potent social media strategy, act more like an insurgent, and leverage the power of the internet to better organize in the purple states.
"Online speeches from his basement won't cut it," they wrote.
Sanders defended Biden's strategy and said the campaign was doing just fine and that it's successfully connecting with real voters.
"We don't take our campaign strategy from the opinion pages of The New York Times," said Sanders, who served as national press secretary for Bernie Sanders' 2016 campaign (no relation). "If it were up to the editorial board, our campaign would've been dead on arrival last April."
She added: "Our campaign does not tailor our outreach strategy to the Twitterati, as I like to call it, a.k.a. the Beltway reporters on Twitter. What we are tailoring our campaign to, and our messaging, and our strategy, are actual voters out there."
Sanders noted that Biden plans to address voters in Wisconsin tomorrow and that he was "in" Florida last week. "These virtual travel days we've seen a lot of success in," she said. "They're just not rallies that we're doing; we're meeting with real people."
"We believe that we're winning. If you look at the polls, if you look at what people are saying, being at home hasn't hurt Joe Biden."
In the interview with Cheddar's Baker Machado, Sanders acknowledged that this year's Democratic National Convention is unlikely to resemble any of the conventions of the past where thousands of raucous party faithful would gather in a giant arena to formally nominate the candidate.
In the age of coronavirus, there may not be many — or any — people filling the seats. Some have speculated that there may not even be an arena.
"This is what I can tell folks: We will be having a convention. The convention might look a little different this year...but we are not going to do anything that's not safe."
"We're going to lead with science," she said. "We are going to listen to the experts."
"We look forward to having our convention in Milwaukee," Sanders added. "It will look like something probably no one has ever seen before but isn't that what everything right about now looks like?"