Since the coronavirus pandemic became the only news that anyone is talking about, the Democratic primary contest has been all but forgotten. And that has become a big problem for Joe Biden and his campaign. Earlier this month, his striking comeback was the biggest story on every network. But the fact that he holds no current office means that, with the campaign on the backburner, no one is really paying any attention to him.

Last week, Biden’s campaign announced he would be starting a daily “shadow briefing” from his home in which he would talk about the virus news and criticize President Trump at length. When I wrote about it at the time (before the first such briefing had happened) I warned that it could go south on Joe. And that’s pretty much what happened. This week, Jazz took a look at Biden’s first efforts and, well…it wasn’t good.

Biden’s second briefing was suddenly canceled on Tuesday. His third attempt on Wednesday wasn’t much better than the first. I noted this one moment which is just not the kind of thing you want to see from your presidential candidate:

Today, Politico published a story about the Biden campaign’s struggles:

The Biden campaign has not quite figured out what will replace the traditional set piece events of a presidential campaign. For now, in the teeth of the crisis, when attention is necessarily focused on the people in charge, Biden has two big problems.

The first is how can he actually do any events outside of his basement that will get attention and coverage?…

His campaign is thinking a lot about how to foster the human connection he thrives on under the new rules of social distancing.

“We’re thinking through what does a virtual campaign look like, and how do we ensure that Biden is able to have that one-on-one connection that he is able to form with voters when he’s out in the real world,” said Bedingfield. “How do we create that online? We’re experimenting with a lot of different formats on that front.”

Next up, launching on Monday, is a regular podcast that Biden will host with a one-on-one conversation format.

I’ll be curious to see if the new interactive podcast version of Biden’s phone-it-in campaign will be live or edited before release. I suspect his team would greatly prefer it be edited given his performance this week.

In any case, one of Biden’s immediate problems—how to get attention—was solved by CNN:

Former Vice President Joe Biden will participate in a live CNN town hall Friday night focused on the coronavirus, the network announced Thursday.

“The Coronavirus Pandemic A CNN Democratic Presidential Town Hall with Joe Biden” will air at 8 p.m. ET and feature questions submitted by individuals living in some of the communities hit hardest by the coronavirus. CNN’s Anderson Cooper will moderate the hourlong discussion on the impact to Americans’ health, the repercussions for the nation’s economy and the human toll to US society.

Basically this is the same thing Biden’s campaign has been doing on its own only now it will be aired on CNN. Just as CNN has decided not to air Trump’s daily coronavirus briefings, they have decided to air one from his rival.

Will this work? Will people tune in to see what he has to say? And even if this works once, will anyone want to see a repeat performance next week? I sort of doubt it. Watching one of those shadow briefings earlier in the week was tough. However, the Democratic Party is clearly feeling desperate right now and that makes the outcome of questions like this harder to predict.

Tags: CNN Joe Biden