WASHINGTON — Memorial Day weekend is a time for presidential wannabes to get out on the campaign trail at patriotic events and solemn remembrances of our fallen heroes and address national issues.
That’s what most Democratic candidates were doing on Monday, but not former Vice President Joseph Biden, front-runner for his party’s presidential nomination.
Instead, his campaign announced that “Joe Biden has no public events scheduled.”
“Those seven words are becoming familiar for the Biden team. Aside from a campaign swing right after announcing his candidacy, Biden has kept his head down while his rivals rush from state to state to state,” The Washington Post reported Monday.
In a carefully calculated, long-run strategy, the Biden campaign doesn’t feel he has to run around the country to become known by the voters.
As President Barack Obama’s vice president for eight years, the 76-year-old Biden is already widely known in his party, his strategists say. Not only widely known, but still energetic for his age.
His deputy campaign manager, Kate Bedingfield, says he spends half an hour to an hour shaking hands with the voters along the rope lines at his appearances.
But news coverage of his campaign thus far shows that after making a burst of appearances in the early primary states following the announcement of his candidacy, he has limited his schedule to mostly fundraisers.
As of the Memorial Day weekend, Biden had appeared at only 11 public events.
His rivals for the Democratic nomination, on the other hand, have been publicly campaigning nonstop.
Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren has appeared at 27 political events since Biden declared his candidacy four weeks ago.
As of this week, former Congressman Beto O’Rourke of Texas had made four times the number of Biden’s public appearances.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York had scheduled 11 stops in Iowa alone during Memorial weekend, while Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey has held more than 27 events.
The question being asked by political reporters is: How long can he keep off the campaign hustlings, risking the possibility that one or more of the party’s 23 Democratic contenders catches fire and threatens his lead?
“It’s definitely an advantage that he can pace himself and do events that matter, rather than just doing events that traditionally are used to prove yourself,” Larry Rasky, who worked on previous Biden campaigns, told the Post. “He’s in a different place than the other candidates.”
Notably, Biden has turned down requests from liberal activist groups to participate in this weekend’s gatherings, including MoveOn.org’s Big Ideas Forum in San Francisco, and the California Democratic Party convention.
He also has turned thumbs-down on next month’s Iowa Democratic Party dinner that will feature 17 of his rivals, and the Black Economic Alliance’s Presidential Candidates Forum in Charleston, South Carolina.
This suggests Biden is being super cautious, fearing that he could be tagged as a carbon copy of the nearly two dozen extremist liberals running against him.
“Democratic officials in important campaign states, meanwhile, are certainly noticing that Biden hasn’t been around as much as the other candidates,” the Post noted Monday in the front-page story with this headline:
“For Biden, a campaign of limited exposure,” followed by this subhead: “Holding far fewer public events than his rivals may be risky strategy.”
The wild-eyed Democratic leftists campaigning around the country nowadays — Bernie Sanders, Warren and the others — think that a majority of Americans want to turn our country in a sharply leftward direction.
They don’t, and it won’t.
Biden’s cautious, tentative approach to the 2020 Democratic primaries sends an unmistakable signal that he fears his party is headed off the deep end. And that, if he’s nominated, he will prevent this from happening.
So far, however, he hasn’t made a cogent, convincing argument that he’s the candidate to do it.
Donald Lambro has been covering Washington politics for more than 50 years as a reporter, editor and commentator.