Biden’s bid: On the presumptive Democratic nominee

Biden has the support of most Democrats, but he must reach out to other sections too

May 01, 2020 12:15 am | Updated 01:16 am IST

Hillary Clinton, the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee and former Secretary of State, has endorsed the presumptive Democratic nominee for the 2020 election, former Vice-President Joe Biden. With her endorsement Mr. Biden now enjoys unequivocal support across the spectrum of Democratic Party heavyweights, including former President Barack Obama , Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren , and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders . The support of Mr. Sanders is especially critical to the Biden campaign. Young voters, voters of colour and a variety of other cohorts within the larger body of U.S. progressives through this year’s campaign were, and possibly still are, vocal supporters of Mr. Sanders and his “democratic socialist” policy agenda for the middle class. These groups also backed Mr. Sanders in 2016, when he spoke of reining in the excesses of Wall Street, cancelling student debt, Medicare for all, expanding social security and a green new deal emphasising renewable and clean energy over traditional reliance on fossil fuels. While the then nominee, Ms. Clinton, went on to win over 65 million votes in the presidential election, her nomination campaign was hobbled by a long season of bickering with Mr. Sanders. In that regard Mr. Biden has already surpassed Ms. Clinton in securing the support of the most important voices in the Democratic pantheon.

As the nomination race draws to a close at the Democratic National Convention in August, his ground game must now move up a gear to take on incumbent U.S. President Donald Trump, with a special focus on managing the COVID-19 pandemic . On the one hand Mr. Biden’s most obvious line of attack will be to highlight a series of bungles that Mr. Trump has made in his handling of the crisis, from not heeding intelligence calls to take decisive action early enough when there were warning signs coming out of China, to playing politics with States desperately in need of medical equipment, and to making bizarre and reckless comments on untested “solutions”. Yet, just like Ms. Clinton in 2016, Mr. Biden cannot win without paying heed to undecided and independent voters, especially in the swing States. If the 2016 election held any lessons for Democrats, it is to not underestimate the importance of economic issues, especially job losses. Indeed, in the context of the COVID-19 crisis, there have been numerous rallies across the U.S. where protesters have not only lashed out at Democrats for what they described as deliberate exaggeration and politicisation of the pandemic and its effects, but also appear to genuinely question the lockdowns that impact commercial activity. To win in November, Mr. Biden will have to balance his policies promoting mainstream values of his party with bipartisan outreach that brings a large swathe of the working population of middle America under the Democratic tent.

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