Top Democrats Fear Biden's Losing Campaign Strategy

AP Photo/Susan Walsh

It is about now, about five months out from a presidential election that voters traditionally make up their minds for whom they will vote.

A top consideration is the economy and that is very bad news for President Biden. An eyebrow-raising story was 'leaked' to Axios by senior Democrats worried that Biden's re-election campaign strategy is a stinkeroo. It had to have come from a top Biden aide, very likely Mike Donilon, his longtime aide. 


The Biden campaign is focused on  Jan. 6, political violence, democracy, and Donald Trump's character. We've seen that. Hell, the campaign set fire to $50M in political ads telling voters that former President Donald Trump is a convicted felon, as though that is something everyone on the planet does not already know. The 24/7 coverage of Trump's hush money trial in Manhattan and his conviction on the 34 counts was broadcast everywhere. Progressive cable network outlets couldn't get enough of it. 

Trump's convictions may move some independent voters away from him but so far it is not happening. If anything, it is increasing Trump's support. That has happened from the start of the strategy of Democrats to use lawfare against Trump to keep him out of the White House for a second term. Americans see what is happening. They aren't stupid. If Trump was not running against Biden, this wouldn't be happening to a former president.

Biden's inner core, led by Donilon, still believes in that strategy. Biden and Donilon allegedly came up with it. That means Donilon came up with it because Joe Biden is not capable of such things. He is at the point of being given notecards for every meeting and event. He depends on teleprompters to deliver speeches. There is no way Biden is sitting around hashing out a campaign strategy.

The strategy team is out of touch with reality. To make matters worse, Old Yeller doesn't want to hear any criticism or negative thoughts.


A Democratic strategist in touch with the campaign told Axios: "It is unclear to many of us watching from the outside whether the president and his core team realize how dire the situation is right now, and whether they even have a plan to fix it. That is scary."

  • People close to the president told Axios they worry about raising concerns in meetings because Biden's group of longtime loyal aides can exile dissenters.
  • "Even for those close to the center, there is a hesitance to raise skepticism or doubt about the current path, for fear of being viewed as disloyal," a person in Biden's orbit told Axios, speaking on condition of anonymity because of those dynamics.
  • "There is not a discussion that a change of course is needed."

That means nothing will change any time soon, if ever. That's fine by me, to be honest. Let Joe Biden be Joe Biden. He's an empty suit that sways with the wind. He has no core principles, especially at election time, at his age he will not change. Biden is divisive, nasty to political opponents, and a racist. There is not empathetic Joe Biden that his supporters claimed he would be. There is not a Uniter-in-Chief, only an angry old man who is obsessed with Donald Trump. 

Let Biden be Biden. Let him dwell on the past and some nebulous idea of saving democracy. What does that mean? Democracy survived January 6 just fine, thank you very much. The Democrats failed democracy that day, as Speaker Nancy Pelosi failed to send in an appropriate number of National Guard troops to secure the Capitol. Instead, the Capitol Police were relied upon to handle a riot. A young woman was killed that day by an officer. That was an unnecessary act. 


Donilon reassures the team that voters will do the right thing and re-elect Biden. 

  • "Joe Biden is a great president, and great presidents get re-elected," is another common Donilon refrain.
  • Donilon — one of the most experienced and understated Democratic operatives in the country — has worked with Biden since 1981. He has argued that polls aren't fully reflecting voters' concerns about democracy.
  • In response to questions for this story, Biden advisers told Axios: "These people have clearly not heard from Mike or anyone on the team the president's detailed case for re-election."

Here's the thing - Biden's talking points are all about trashing Trump. There's a place for that in a campaign but it can't be the whole campaign. Voters want to know what a candidate will do in another term. What will he do to make their lives easier? Does he understand the stress that families are under across the country to buy groceries, put gas in their cars, pay the mortgage or rent, pay utilities, and other monthly bills? 60% of people in Biden's America say they are living paycheck to paycheck. Why doesn't he acknowledge that and tell them that things will get better? 

Trump, on the other hand, is leading in favorability polls because he talks to people. He talks like the everyday voter, concentrating on issues they care about. Trump talks about the open southern border, the high cost of living, inflation, failing schools, crime, and supporting law enforcement. He talks about what he will do when he is back in office. He offers hope. The malaise in Biden's America is real. It hasn't been felt like this since the Jimmy Carter days. 


Some officials around Biden, including some in the White House, didn't learn two important lessons from Biden's win in 2020.

  • Biden won the 2020 Democratic primary largely because the party consolidated to stop Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and picked the candidate who polls showed as the most competitive.
  • Even with a once-in-a-century pandemic, Biden barely beat Trump by less than 45,000 votes across three states. "Biden didn't win, Trump lost," one Democrat close to the White House put it.

Voters weren't voting for Biden but against Trump. Biden's poll numbers show he is not a popular president and he is not seen as successful on the important issues. He isn't even able to show he is the foreign policy expert he tried to build a political career on. It was all a farce - Biden has been historically wrong on everything for 50 years.

Let Biden be Biden. Let him talk about abstract ideas and watch voters' eyes glaze over. Contrast that with Trump's huge campaign rallies where supporters show up hours early to make sure they get a seat. Biden's crowds are small, which is telling for a sitting president. 

This will be a close election. In national polling, Trump is one point ahead of Biden. Elections are won state by state and that is what has Team Biden so worried. Trump is ahead in all the battleground states and many states that Biden won in 2020. Trump needs to stay on message and keep the discipline he is showing now. He needs to win the debate against Biden. The media will say Trump lost, even if Biden freezes and can't complete a sentence, we know that. But viewers tuning in will see the contrast for themselves. That's not good news for Joe Biden.


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David Strom 8:16 PM | July 17, 2024