As Ben Franklin might have once said — Early to bed, controlled by staff, makes a candidate healthy and less likely to gaffe. In fact, Franklin might have said that during Joe Biden’s first presidential campaign. Biden’s allies are saying it now, after being stunned by a series of verbal stumbles over the last month or so. They want Team Biden to quit scheduling events in the evening, when the former VP’s tongue seems especially loose:
Allies to Joe Biden have been floating the idea of altering the former vice president’s schedule in an effort to reduce the gaffes he has made in recent days.
The allies, growing increasingly nervous about Biden’s verbal flubs, have said it’s an approach that’s been suggested to campaign officials on the heels of the former vice president’s stumbles.
Biden has a tendency to make the blunders late in the day, his allies say, particularly after a long swing on the road, like he had last week in Iowa. They say something needs to be done to give the candidate more down time as the campaign intensifies in the fall.
Let’s get this straight — are Biden’s allies saying he needs an early bedtime? As The Hill notes, Biden will turn 77 in November. Even for these days that’s a rather advanced age for any kind of extended travel, let alone the pressure of a political campaign. Most men Biden’s age travel occasionally for fun, not every day as a job interview.
However, that’s a trap of sorts too. If Biden can’t stand up to the demands of a presidential campaign, how can he argue he’s fit enough for the 24/7 demands on a president? It’s not for nothing that Americans have tended to look for younger men (and now women) for this job. Four of the last seven presidents have been in their fifties when first elected, and one could argue that two of the others (Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump) were such vital and imposing figures that the age issue was secondary at best. And Trump’s opponent was the same age he was, for that matter.
Presidents don’t get the luxury of a reliably early bedtime, Franklin’s original advice notwithstanding. If Biden can’t keep up and maintain a disciplined tongue as a candidate in the primaries, the pressure cooker of a general election promises more gaffe-making rather than less. To some extent it’s part of Biden’s package as a known quantity, but each gaffe creates a potential demolition point regardless of how prepared people are for his revealing remarks.
Biden’s friends don’t hold out much hope that the campaign will take their advice, it seems:
“I think you’ll see the same schedule and maybe even more Joe Biden,” one ally said. “Everyone wants to see Joe Biden be Joe Biden. If he’s held back in any way, that’s almost the antithesis of who he is.”
“I think it’s the wrong approach,” the ally added.
They don’t really have much choice. If Biden starts ghosting the campaign trail and only showing up for Country Kitchen Buffet dinners at 4 pm, everyone will know that Biden’s not up for the campaign — and not up for the job he’s running to win. They just have to hope that people laugh at the gaffes rather than get angry, and that the media will cover Biden’s flank long enough to get to the general election.