And so the world’s longest version of Hamlet continues. After dawdling for months, Joe Biden looked ready last week to finally jump into the 2020 Democratic primaries. Four days ago, Edward-Isaac Dovere reported in the Atlantic that the campaign launch would take place tomorrow with a video and an event, either in Charlottesville or Philadelphia. Other outlets immediately corroborated that account with their own Biden sources.
Last night, however, Dovere reported that Biden still seems to be asking to be or not to be (via Twitchy):
Several sources say the Biden announcement, which had been planned for Wednesday by video, has now been pushed back
— Edward-Isaac Dovere (@IsaacDovere) April 22, 2019
Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Jonathan Tamari reported on Twitter that his sources had told him that morning that it was all green lights for tomorrow’s launch. After checking back in with them, Tamari found out that something was rotten in the state of Bidenmark … again:
Joe Biden’s plans are in flux again.
If the former vice president does launch his presidential campaign this week, it won’t involve a trip to Charlottesville, Va., and plans for potential public events in Pennsylvania are also uncertain, according to sources familiar with his plans. …
Two sources close to Biden’s campaign told The Inquirer on Friday that they expected him to begin his campaign in Charlottesville on Wednesday, followed by potential events in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. Two more sources later confirmed that those plans appeared likely, though they all stressed that the plans were preliminary and might change. The Atlantic first reported that those cities were being considered for a campaign launch.
On Monday, however, one of The Inquirer’s original sources said the considerations involving those sites had been scuttled, and another person close to Biden said definitively that the former vice president would not be traveling to Charlottesville.
Tamari also found out that no one had applied for permits for a campaign event at major venues once thought to be under consideration. That includes the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where Biden could have posed near the Rocky statue. Plans for a fundraiser hosted by Comcast exec David Cohen on Thursday appear to be still on, but Tamari reports that Biden’s team still hasn’t confirmed his appearance.
This morning, however, Axios’ Mike Allen hears from inside Team Biden and reports that the launch is still on for tomorrow … or Thursday. Maybe:
When Joe Biden announces for president later this week, he’ll open his campaign with a “climate of the nation” message that takes on President Trump but doesn’t directly attack any of the other 2020 Democrats, advisers tell me.
What he’ll say: Biden will spell out the stakes for the country, and talk about what kind of people we’re going to be. He’ll emphasize the kind of politics he’s running against, and what kind of leadership the moment calls for. …
What’s next: Look for Biden to announce with a video tomorrow or Thursday, then headline a fundraiser being held by Comcast’s David Cohen in Philadelphia.
Don’t forget Tamari’s report that Team Biden hasn’t yet applied for permits in Philly. This still looks like amateurish spitballing despite having nearly four months lead time since Elizabeth Warren’s launch on New Year’s Eve. But that’s not the best part of Allen’s report. This is:
Biden will project a “determined” air, advisers say.
Determined? Yes, that perfectly describes this months-long fretting over whether to jump into the race, and the chaos over how to do it. It’s only going to get worse from here, too. This overlooked report from Time on Friday about the candidate speaks volumes about what we can expect from Biden once — and if — this campaign ever gets rolling at all:
The leading option is for a post-video rally in Charlottesville, Va., where a demonstration by white supremacists left one dead and earned President Donald Trump’s tacit endorsement when he said there were good people in the crowd. Another option is in Delaware, a state he represented in the Senate from 1972 until his election as Barack Obama’s loyal lieutenant in 2008. And there are still talks about him channeling “Rocky” on the famous steps of Philadelphia’s art museum.
Earlier, Biden has asked his Senate allies to stay in town this week in case he wanted to launch in Washington. Perhaps sensing the foolhardy idea of a campaign launch in Washington, where Congress has a meager 26% approval rating, no one stayed.
“I’ve never seen anything so half-assed,” a former Biden aide said. “They’re improvising and doing last-minute planning. The guy has been running for President since 1987 and can’t figure the basics out, like where to stand on his first day? This should make everyone very nervous.”
Added a second Biden insider: “The guy’s best day is the day he announces. Everything after that gets worse.”
That was true twelve years ago — actually, it wasn’t true, because the “best day” didn’t even survive the sunset. What will Biden say on his first launch day about the demographically diverse but ideologically homogenous Democratic field arrayed against him this time? The options are limitless. To paraphrase the Bard one last time: though this be madness, yet there is no apparent method in’t. Or perhaps it’s just that conscience doth make cowards of us all?
Update: They’re not going to announce in Charlottesville at all. As it turns out, the campaign didn’t reach out to see how it would go over until very recently:
Aides to Biden had briefed journalists about the plan for Wednesday, which liberal activist groups in Charlottesville told the Washington Examiner had prompted opposition, with some residents unhappy about the scene a tragedy the city would prefer to forget being used as a campaign launch backdrop.
With no direct connection to Charlottesville, some viewed the move as disrespectful and capitalizing on the death of activist Heather Heyer, 32, during the “Unite the Right” rally in August 2017.
Biden spokesman Bill Russo confirmed to the Washington Examiner that Biden would not announce in Charlottesville, Va. Instead, he is expected to declare his candidacy in Pittsburgh before flying to Philadelphia for a second event. Biden, 76, was born in Scranton, Pa., which is located more than 120 miles north of Philadelphia. …
The last-minute change of plan could be an indication of disorganization in the Biden campaign organization, despite the many months it has had to prepare as the former 36-year senator from Delaware procrastinated over his announcement.
How can someone be in Washington politics for almost 50 years and still be this amateurish?
Update: Politico’s Julian Routh now hears that the video will get released on Thursday, but Biden himself won’t come out until … Monday. NYT reporter Jonathan Martin isn’t betting the farm on that either:
Latest word* on Biden we got was Thursday video launch and an event next week. This seems to be the event.
Pittsburgh a bit of a full circle as his non-campaign in ‘15 crested there on Labor Day w chants of “Run Joe Run”
*subject to changehttps://t.co/EIg1irmr8S
— Jonathan Martin (@jmartNYT) April 23, 2019
Biden could be bounded in a nutshell and count himself king of infinite space, too.
Update: Read at your own risk.
— ABC News (@ABC) April 23, 2019