Energized Joe Biden Deftly Goes Old School In NBC News Town Hall Tonight As Election Looms – Review
Most of the time, Joe Biden is so middle of the road that they should name that yellow line after the former Vice-President regardless if he wins the election next month or not.
“There’s not one single syllable I’ve ever said that could lead you to believe that I was a socialist or a communist,” Biden declared in Miami tonight at an NBC Nightly News town hall with Lester Holt in classic MOR fashion.
“Do I look like a socialist, I’m the guy who ran against the socialist,” the former Veep noted of his primary victories over now loyal supporter Sen. Bernie Sanders when a question sought to trip him up over appealing to GOP leaning Cuban and Venezuelan voters who are being told he is a prisoner of the left. “I’ve taken on the Castros of this world, the Putins of this world,” Biden added. “I’m no more socialist or communist than Donald Trump is …well, I won’t say it.”
Truth be told, Biden did say it by employing his not-saying-it tactic: this town hall, like this election, was all about Trump.
“Look, anybody who contracts the virus by essentially saying masks don’t matter, social distancing doesn’t matter, I think is responsible for what happens to them,” the poll leading Democrat deftly noted earlier That response came after the anchor asked Biden if he agreed with a poll that said 65% of Americans think Donald Trump “bears some responsibility” for getting COVID-19.
Still, taking on that man in the arena pose that politicians from Teddy Roosevelt onward have loved to adopt, the ex-VP didn’t take long to start breaking out of his usual safety-first mode on Monday. Unlike the drive-in format of his last town hall on CNN on September 17, the ultimate empathetic politician of his era was up close and personal with the spread out 60 audience members in attendance live on the Comcast-owned network.
And, as Holt deftly played figurative traffic cop, it worked in a clearly energized Biden’s favor as he took questions from the selected voters, all of whom wore masks.
In an election season that has shed almost all the rules of the game, tonight’s town hall was actually quite a throwback in many ways to the more traditional campaigns of pre-Trump times – even though it was sometimes often for Biden to hear the questions over the roar of nearby traffic.
Whether it was well watched or not up against a rescheduled NFL game on CBS, there were topics on tap in the town hall like the train wreck of a first POTUS debate on September 29, the COVID-19 pandemic, the economy, racial justice and police reform, as to be expected. At one point, Biden even opened up that the “supposedly coming up” second POTUS debate of October 15 may not occur. However, the real deal, to use the ex-VP’s trademark phrase, was Trump, Trump, and more Trump, with an iron first in a velvet glove.
After the debate last week, Biden didn’t back down from calling Trump a clown, telling one reporter that he had no regrets “because everything I said was true.” But faced by a similar question from one of the “average” Americans gathered at this town hall, Biden said, “I should have said it was a clownish undertaking rather than calling him a clown.”
Additionally, as Biden got in most of his personal and professional talking points, the septuagenarian career politician made sure slipped in a constant chorus of mocking “tough guys” that was squarely aimed at Trump. A mockery that comes just hours after the gasping for breath former Celebrity Apprentice host prematurely returned to the White House from Walter Reed Medical Center.
Another factor in a hefty performance outside in the Florida metropolis by Biden tonight was the fact that the ex-VP came off a day of campaigning on Monday in the Sunshine State. Light-ish on his feet overall, Biden at one point said “excuse my back, I apologize” to those behind him in the circle – something you would never hear from Trump. Then there was that that rather charming aside in a question on police reform and community about “that kid walking across the street with a hoodie on might be the next poet laureate.”
Yes, there were name drops of Bob Dole and Ted Kennedy and a couple long winded anecdotal
tales about his decades in the Senate, but there was a lot of policy wonking and old school real politicking from Biden too. “With age comes wisdom, hopefully,” the former Vice-President asserted as he started a strong and even impassioned answer at the end of the town hall to a millennial voter. Just two days before his running mate Sen. Kamala Harris debates Mike Pence, Biden displayed a comparatively ego free self-awareness. In that vein, the 77-year old worked to make the case that his presidency would be a “transition” to the next generation.
As concerns are raised about the turnout among young people, given the age of both candidates, it was a better case to make to the younger generation than trying to show that he is totally in sync with them.
It was also a keen move by a politician who has discovered the middle of the road looking increasingly like an autobahn to the Oval Office.
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