President Joe Biden’s re-election campaign has a major disadvantage. With no pandemic, Biden can no longer campaign from his basement and instead have to navigate the real world, which is filled with all kinds of hazards. Rogue sand bags, stairs, and bicycle pedals all threaten to trip up the president at any moment.
It sounds absurd, but Operation Don’t Let Biden Fall is a “critical project” for Team Biden, Axios reports. Surrogates for the president have publicly brushed away concern about Biden’s age as a right-wing conspiracy, but the campaign is well aware that there is a serious problem. Two-thirds of voters say that they are concerned that Biden doesn’t have the “necessary” physical and mental health to serve as president —and that’s an evaluation that goes beyond the number of birthdays Biden has celebrated (eighty!). Democrats have expressed that they are “terrified” that Biden will suffer a bad fall right before the November 2024 election, cementing the idea that he cannot handle the rigors of the job.
To that end, the president has been doing physical therapy — “proprioceptive maintenance maneuvers,” to be precise — for the past two years to help improve his balance. Call it Biden Boot Camp. He also wears sneakers more often since falling during a commencement address at the Air Force Academy, inching closer and closer to Senator John Fetterman’s manner of professional dress. And he is using the short stairs to board Air Force One. I think it would be more fun to just put him on a hydraulic lift, but I suppose that might be more work for the fine fellows at Joint Base Andrews. Might I also suggest Biden don a helmet when exiting Marine One, lest he lose any more crucial brain cells.
Alas, not long after the Axios report was published, another video emerged of Biden struggling to descend the steps from Air Force One before heading to the UAW picket line. Any female-identifying person who has walked down a flight of stairs while in high heels will recognize the stiff-legged step-down and terrified grip of the railing. Even a Krassenstein brother had a difficult time spinning the moment, referring to it as “barely a stumble.”
Some Democrats have privately blamed Biden’s advance team for his struggles, but I actually feel bad for them. Ensuring Biden knows where to go after leaving the lectern at FEMA headquarters must be as frustrating and futile as trying to teach your grandparents how to text with emojis.
A recent Washington Post-ABC poll found that Biden’s most likely general election challenger, former president Donald Trump, leads him by ten points in a hypothetical head-to-head matchup. The Post downplayed the results of its own poll as an outlier and it’s still early days for both campaigns, but that shouldn’t alleviate any panic. (Trump, you will recall, is excellent at walking down a ramp.)
During a recent private presentation to donors, the Biden team reportedly identified Florida as one of seven “expansion” states they can win to provide the president with a clearer path to victory. Donors in the audience were said to be “doing deep eye-rolls” over the claim, and rightfully so. Trump is now a resident of Florida, and won the state in both 2016 and 2020. Florida governor Ron DeSantis won re-election by nearly twenty points. The idea Biden could flip Florida reeks of desperation from a flailing campaign.
How will the Biden camp make inroads with voters when, as the Post described, “nearly five months in, the Biden campaign remains, by design, a mostly behind-the-scenes operation”? That strategy, combined with the decision to outsource most of the campaign infrastructure to the DNC, certainly won’t inspire confidence that Biden is fit enough to run another campaign, let alone serve for another four years in the White House.
The Biden team is at an inflection point. They have to decide if it is worth running a hidden, middling campaign — and likely getting trounced in the process — if it means protecting what little dignity Biden has left. Or will they run a real campaign, put Biden in front of the voters, and risk whatever gaffes, made-up stories, falls, incoherence, and creepiness that might come along the way. Go big or go home, they say!