Joe Biden’s presidential campaign called another early morning press lid at 9:20 a.m. on Thursday, leaving strategists and reporters wondering what the hell is going on. It was the ninth time this month that Biden had no public events on schedule and thus told the press before lunchtime that they would not be needed for the rest of the day.
It’s downright bizarre that a campaign would squander nine perfectly good days that could be spent on the trail just two months out from the election. What was Biden doing during this time instead? Sitting at home with his wife in Wilmington and hopping on the occasional Zoom event? Sam Stein, who is a Daily Beast reporter and purportedly not a campaign spokesperson, insisted that Biden must have been prepping for Tuesday’s debate against Trump. But even Hillary Clinton, who was blasted for being ‘over-prepared’ for the first debate in 2016, only started lightening her campaign schedule the week prior. Debate prep thus hardly comes close to explaining Biden’s subdued September.
If we compared Biden’s recent campaign schedule to the supposedly standard 40-hour work week (full time employees in the US actually work about seven hours longer than that, on average), we’d have even more reason to be concerned. From August 31 to September 6, Biden called an early lid three times and was out in public campaigning for just over 34 hours. From September 7 to 13, he again called three early lids and was out on the trail about 35 hours. He made up some slack in the third week of September, putting in 65 hours on the trail. But so far this week, he’s only been out and about for just over 24 hours and has already called two early lids. It seems like a bad sign that Biden is campaigning for an office that requires brutally long working hours and can’t even keep up with the average American worker while campaigning. Perhaps it would be fairer to compare him to the average American retiree? Obama only slept for about five hours each night while in office, and Trump sleeps about four. Could Biden’s physical health be as troublesome to his campaign as his mental health seems to be?
Perhaps Biden’s frequent rest stops are an extension of his campaign’s strategy to ‘never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake’. They opted to keep him locked in the basement during the early months of the pandemic while Trump held daily press conferences about the coronavirus. It worked for a short time, with Biden taking a comfortable lead in many swing states, but since then the polls have tightened. Biden risks falling into the same trap that Hillary Clinton did in 2016 when she got too comfortable with the idea that Trump would talk his way out of victory. She took for granted voters in places like Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan. They responded by casting their ballots for her opponent. Will voters in 2020 feel similarly snubbed when they find out Biden spent more than a third of his month on the couch?