Not a good general election ad but not a bad primary ad. Swing voters who like Trump won’t be swayed by the fact that Justin Trudeau and Emmanuel Macron dislike him. To righties and right-leaning independents, the scorn of effete international liberals is a badge of honor. Let Prime Minister Blackface tend to his own garden.
But in a Democratic primary, where the electorate’s already sold on the fact that Trump is a rolling national embarrassment? Sure, this ad is Biden reaching them where they live. The core liberal critique of Trump is that he’s intellectually, morally, and temperamentally unfit for office. Policy disagreements are secondary. Biden’s point here is to show them that he gets them by prosecuting their case using evidence (deceptively edited evidence) gathered from foreign leaders. Even though Trudeau’s hot-mic critique was about nothing more significant than Trump rambling too long during a press conference.
There are other strategic angles. Trump himself liked to say during the Obama era that “the world is laughing at us.” This is Obama’s VP turning the tables on him, suggesting that the Trump era has made America’s problems worse — which is really the theme of Biden’s whole campaign. We need to get back to the good old days of 2015! He’s also showing Democratic voters that although he often comes off as disjointed at debates and seems to have “lost a step,” he can still land a punch. Or at least his ad team can. Point being, he’ll hit Trump hard as nominee, a prospect that will gratify the lefty id and possibly reassure some skeptics that Biden’s enough of a “fighter” to suit their tastes. (A fighter in the cause of humiliating Trump, that is, not a fighter for the programs progressives most care about, like Medicare for All.)
And finally, this is solid Trump-bait. If the ad gets under Trump’s skin and he takes to attacking Biden on Twitter, so much the better for Joe. He’s reportedly feeling cocky on the trail lately despite his struggles in the early states: Harris is out, Warren has slipped, Bernie’s unelectable (allegedly), and no one thinks the Buttigieg flash in the pan will last. Rather than attack his rivals and risk alienating some Democratic voters whom he’ll need next fall, Biden’s going to swing at their least favorite person and hope that he swings back. If Trump does, that’s free press for Joe and maybe something that’ll influence skeptical Democrats to start imagining Biden as a potential nominee.
Plus, on a very basic level, Democrats *do* care what effete international liberals think. It’s one of the things that makes them Democrats, for cripes sake.
An interesting question is how Biden will frame this argument against Trump if/when he’s the nominee. We’re not going to see as many testimonials from Trudeau in his general election ads but the underlying theme here is destined to be a recurring theme in the Democratic campaign: Aren’t you embarrassed? Suburbanites especially — aren’t you embarrassed to have a guy who says and does the stuff Trump says and does? I think that’s half the reason they’re following through on impeachment even though the polling isn’t great for them and there’s zero chance of the Senate removing him. They just want to pile on a little more shame for suburban voters next fall, a bit more stigma for Trump in hopes that they’ll say, “Okay, this circus needs to leave town even though I’m nervous about what’s set to replace it.”