A referendum on Trump
PHILADELPHIA (VG) The presidential election is most of all a referendum on Donald Trump. For or against Trump? It’s more important than what voters think of Joe Biden.
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It rests a lot on 77-year-old Biden. He is three years older than Trump. But the age difference between the two seems bigger than that. Biden is in the process of conducting the world’s longest and most brutal job interview, which will prepare him for the world’s toughest job.
If he stumbles on the upside – literally, things can go wrong. The Trump campaign is eagerly looking for the slightest sign that Biden appears weak or weakened. They try to put floodlights on every talk or oversight that can create the impression that Biden is too old. That he is not physically or mentally fit for the job.
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Biden – a decent man
Americans like vitality and strength. Here Biden falls short. Trump’s constant references to “Sleepy Joe,” “Sleepy Joe,” may hit more than we like to think.
The contrast to Trump is great, in most areas. The bite is all that Trump is not. Joe Biden is a decent man, with both an appearance and a language that inspires confidence. He is concerned with reuniting the Americans. He has solid political experience. And he appears to be a man of cooperation, a politician who has often managed to find solutions across party lines.
When Biden held his televised public meeting in Philadelphia on Thursday night, I met several of his constituents. Earlier this week, I met Trump voters at a rally in Florida. It’s a strange situation: Both Biden’s supporters and Trump’s supporters are passionate about Trump. With the opposite sign.
Biden’s most important card in this election campaign is that he is not Donald Trump. Most of all, the Democrats want to get rid of the current president. The party has chosen the man they believe can best defeat Trump – not necessarily the man who creates the most excitement.
They did something similar in 2004, when they nominated John Kerry as the Democrats’ presidential candidate. Not because Kerry was the one who could win the most hearts. But because Democrats considered him “most eligible,” as the one who could beat the then president, Republican George W. Bush.
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It did not go well. Four years later, however, things went far better. Then a young and energetic Barack Obama fought his way to the nomination, winning over the Democrats’ established party apparatus. Obama became president – on a wave of excitement.
Holds for the nose
The wave Biden can sail into is precisely the strong opposition of many voters to Trump. It can go well this time. Opinion polls so far suggest that. Trump is far more controversial than Bush was in 2004, when John Kerry lost the election.
But Biden is fighting both against the passionate Trump supporters, and against Republicans who stick their noses in and vote for Trump because they like his policies. After all, Trump has carried out many of the election promises from 2016. He has cut taxes and regulations, and appointed new, very conservative, Supreme Court justices. The last in line, Amy Coney Barrett, will probably be approved next week. She is only 48 years old, and may come to shape American society for decades.
Left side with
Trump talks less about what he will do in the next four years. It frustrates many on his side. But he is most concerned with getting love from those who already love him. That is what gives him energy and strength.
Trump and his people portray Biden as a puppet figure for the radical left in the Democratic Party. But this, of course, does not reflect reality. Biden has always been a moderate Democrat. He sided with the left in the nomination battle to win and become the party’s presidential candidate. Now he is back in the center.
For example, he is sticking to Obamacare, instead of a new health plan that the left in the Democratic Party wants. And unlike in 2016, the left now fully supports Biden. In the last election, many among them were critical of Hillary Clinton, in the disappointment that Bernie Sanders did not win the nomination. Now they see that four new years with Trump is far worse than the alternative.
Many of those I met in Philadelphia believed that Biden was running for president because he felt obligated to do so. Because the party believes he is the only one who can beat Trump. And they point to Kamala Harris, Biden’s vice presidential candidate. “Maybe the next Madam President,” a young girl said to me. She cheers on Biden, but most of all on Harris.
Trump and his people are trying to paint Kamala Harris as more radical. She is, in the first place, but she is completely behind Biden’s policy. Of course. Without her on the ballot, it would have been more difficult for many to vote for Biden. Both because Harris represents breadth, and because many voters see her as suitable to take over if something should happen to Biden.
There are still just over two weeks left until the election. It’s a long time in an American election campaign. A lot can happen.
Now Biden just has to stay on his feet and have his tongue straight in his mouth. Otherwise, a Trump victory could be stumbling close.