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Former V.P. Joe Biden

Has Anyone Seen Joe Biden?

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By Robert Safir

The question that a lot of people are asking these days is: Where is Joe Biden?

There must be a good reason that this question is being posed from a number of different media. This includes reporters from the left as well as those from the right. What has contributed do this perception that former Vice President Joe Biden has disappeared into the hills in the middle of a presidential campaign? Well, we won’t jump to conclusions, but at the very least, you can argue that these are not “normal” times.

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Biden Reports He Has Been Busy

Giphy

Just yesterday, MSNBC’s Yasmin Vossoughian asked Joe Biden: “As a candidate for president, are you making yourself visible enough, especially during this crisis, because it is a fine line to walk. You certainly don't want to be seen as the candidate who is politicizing a pandemic when Americans face this crisis.”

Mr. Biden responded by pointing you that he’s been involved in very productive things. On January 17th, he called for the president to take the coronavirus situation seriously. He also pointed out that he was the first person to discuss the Defense Production Act. This would have given the president the authority to redirect a company’s efforts toward a specific cause, such as in World War II when the Ford Motor Company was directed to manufacture B-24 Liberator Bombers.

In the case of our current pandemic, the idea would be to get companies to make respirators, masks, gloves – any type of equipment and supplies that would aid in the fight against COVID-19.

The last response during this interview with Yasmin was to say that he’s been on the phone with experts, trying to come up with a plan of action to battle the coronavirus pandemic.

Basement Broadcasts

Audio Mixing Board
Unsplash | Girish Dalvi

To some people, there is the perception that Mr. Biden is struggling for attention. Last week, he conducted a virtual town hall for CNN that ran an hour long. He attempted to interject himself into a news cycle dominated by the coronavirus pandemic. And that right there is a major challenge. The virus doesn’t just dominate the news cycle, it is the news cycle. People are watching the numbers, hearing the warnings, and wondering if it will ever end.

Understandably, Biden’s basement broadcasts are designed to show that he is still politically relevant. Meanwhile, President Trump is getting the benefit of daily White House press briefings, which is in stark contrast to a president that previously eliminated press briefings almost entirely.

There is also a need to keep campaign finance dollars coming in. With the constant crashing economy, this is a tough challenge to take on as well.

Too Bad the President Woke Up

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Unfortunately, or surprisingly, or strangely enough (or all of the above), President Trump’s demeanor has changed in the last several days. Rarely, or if ever seen from him, is a somber tone he adopted during a coronavirus pandemic press conference. He dished out plenty of facts (and not the alternative ones we’re so used to) and called for national unity to defeat this virus. Instead of hype, exaggerations, and lies – all designed to make him look good – he impressed upon everyone the gravity of this ever-evolving crisis.

Trump Has a 15-Day Plan

Graph showing "the curve"
Wikimedia | https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Flatten_the_curve_-_coronavirus_disease_2019_epidemic_infographic.jpg

"It's bad. It's bad," Trump said as he unveiled a 15-day plan to try and flatten the curve of new infections and mitigate a feared surge of sick patients that could actually overwhelm the health system.

"Each and every one of us has a critical role to play in stopping the spread and transmission of the virus," Trump said, summoning unity as he dives deeper into a crisis that could now define his term and possibly boost his reelection hopes.

This was in sharp contrast to previous comments in which he dismissed the whole situation, comparing the pandemic to the flu, promising things would get better when the weather warms up, and predicting the virus would simply go away altogether.

Is This Bad for Biden?

Joe Biden and Andrew Cuomo
Gettyimages | Andrew Burton

In an unusual turn, President Trump came across as a leader of a nation in crisis, briefly erasing the constant political divides that have persisted for years. It really made him look presidential for the first time and it demonstrated he had been listening to Dr. Fauci and the CDC guidance on what’s coming.

But it will take more than one news briefing to turn things around. The President must show in the coming days that can lead more fitfully and organize the government to battle “the monster.”

And sure enough, in the following days he snapped at Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. These two governors have been winning accolades in their handling of the crisis and have demonstrated true leadership. Lashing out at them put Trump right back where he’s always been in demeanor, full of accusations, exaggerations, and lies.

But as a wake-up call to Joe Biden – this is no time to relax. The perception that the former V.P. has “disappeared” recently has to be reversed. He can use what he naturally has – empathy, sincerity, compassion, and understanding. These can work in his favor.

By the same token, he must be visible enough so that everyone benefits from his leadership.

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