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Analysis: 3 reasons calendar could be on Biden's side as divided Democrats fret

John T. Bennett, CQ-Roll Call on

Published in Political News

WASHINGTON — The calendar, ironically, could be on President Joe Biden’s side.

The notion might seem counterintuitive as Democrats debate whether Biden, at 81 years old, has the mental sharpness, as well as cognitive and physical stamina, to defeat Donald Trump then serve another four-year term.

Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., told CNN Tuesday evening he is worried a Biden run could lead to a Trump “landslide” win, and former Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., on Wednesday opted against endorsing him running in a separate television interview. Still, no widespread movement has emerged this week among divided House and Senate Democrats to try pushing out the president — and that’s advantage Biden.

“Biden is outplaying all of his Democratic adversaries right now. The President controls the calendar, the delegates, and ultimately the power,” David Jolly, a former Republican House member, said in an email.

Team Biden has gone on the offensive, and that could help the president run out the clock on his detractors.

“It’s time to put Trump in the bullseye,” Biden told Democratic donors on a Monday call, according to excerpts released by the White House. “I’m in this to the end, and I’m going to beat Trump — I promise you.”

Biden received the support of the Congressional Black Caucus and House progressives. Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., backed down from a reported effort to assemble a group of his colleagues to urge Biden to step aside. There were no major movements to push for Biden’s departure from the race from House or Senate Democrats following separate private meetings on Tuesday.

That only bolsters how the calendar is on Biden’s side. Here are three reasons why.

NATO summit

Both parties for decades adhered to an unwritten agreement to avoid besmirching a sitting commander in chief when a president was overseas. The summit is being held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, not far from the White House and Capitol — but it will put Biden shoulder-to-shoulder with other world leaders.

It might as well be Paris, London or Brussels.

That means Biden — who ran on and continues to tout his decades of foreign policy experience as a senator, then vice president, and now as president for three years — would be unlikely to announce he’s ending his reelection campaign during the summit, which ends Thursday evening.

“It’s good that we’re stronger than ever, because this moment in history calls for our collective strength,” Biden told alliance leaders Tuesday evening.

Asked by a MSNBC anchor if she wants Biden to run for a second term, Pelosi responded: “I want him to do whatever he decides to do. And that’s the way it is.” She also pointed to Biden hosting and “setting the agenda” for the summit which, by definition, will allow him to buy a few more days.

Still, the main event may be a planned solo press conference Thursday, when Biden is slated to take questions from reporters who were not told what to ask in advance by his staff. That also raises the stakes and risks, however, should he have gaffes or bad moments during the summit and wrap-up press conference.

“Biden might be toast,” said one Democratic strategist via email who requested anonymity to be candid. “Unless he aces NATO and his press conference.”

To that end, Biden and White House aides this week have reminded pundits that the president has faced long odds and been counted out before. Yet, he found ways to win.

 

GOP convention

Republicans are preparing to put on a four-day show of unity next week during their nominating convention in Milwaukee.

Trump has promised another prime-time spectacle, and — despite saying July 3 that Biden “just quit” the race and “I got him out” — said in a television interview this week he believes Biden will stay in due to his “ego.”

Charlie Dent, a former GOP House member from Pennsylvania, said earlier this week that’s a big reason why Biden appears hellbent on staying in the race.

“This is a race now between the incapable and the unimaginable. In a perfect world, both would drop out and pass the torch,” Dent said in a telephone interview. “But Trump isn’t going to do that, and Biden apparently doesn’t want to do that — even after an epic debate meltdown that was witnessed by 50 million viewers.”

The twice-impeached and once-convicted 45th president has a unique way of dominating news coverage. His rally Tuesday evening in Florida was a good example, as he verbally attacked Vice President Kamala Harris, a kind of strategic hedge — just in case Biden’s mind is changed and she becomes the Democratic nominee.

“Whatever else can be said about ‘Crooked Joe Biden,’ you have to give him credit for one brilliant decision, probably the smartest decision he ever made,” Trump told his loyalists as sweat glistened on his face under a red “Make America Great Again” ball cap. “He picked Kamala Harris as his vice president. No, it was brilliant. Because it was an insurance policy. Maybe the best insurance policy I’ve ever seen.

“If Joe had picked someone even halfway competent,” Trump added, “they would have bounced him from office years ago, but they can’t because she’s gotta be their second choice.”

Ground game

Biden campaign aides for months have bragged they have a superior ground operation across the country, but especially in the six to eight battleground states that likely will decide the election.

If Biden stepped aside, Democratic strategists this week said it is unclear if, or how much of, Biden’s state-by-state organizations would cleanly transfer to the eventual nominee.

On the call with donors Monday, Biden reminded them he has an infrastructure already in place.

“We have a hell of an organization. We have thousands of volunteers out there now,” Biden said, according to a summary released by the White House. “We’ve opened hundreds and hundreds of headquarters all across the country.”

That’s a reason Jolly said of congressional Democrats: “Unless a leading Democrat launches an organized effort to flip 2,000 delegates at the [Democratic] convention, then they’re just meeting to meet — and with no discernible strategy to rally adversarial Democrats to.”

The vast Biden campaign apparatus is a big reason why, if he sticks by his vow to run, Democrats might have to accept another thing Pelosi said Wednesday: “Whatever he decides, we go with.”


©2024 CQ-Roll Call, Inc., All Rights Reserved. Visit cqrollcall.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

 

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