As Bronson noted, "Fox News Sunday" anchor Chris Wallace expressed his astonishment at the Biden campaign's media avoidance strategy on my radio show this past Friday. Not only has the presumptive Democratic nominee declined Wallace's persistent invitations to appear on his show for a rigorous interview (President Trump gave Wallace a full hour, in spite of his public criticisms of Wallace), Biden's running mate has taken zero questions from anyone since her selection -- and the campaign itself decided against participating on any Sunday show on convention eve. Wallace, a veteran journalist who moderated the final general election presidential debate of the last cycle, was astounded:
LISTEN: Chris Wallace shocked by Biden campaign’s media blackout. “The damnedest thing I’ve ever seen.” Biden’s “basement strategy” entails “not doing really any serious interviews...” pic.twitter.com/XtHrf3HwRr— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) August 15, 2020
Later in the interview, Wallace said, "I'll tell you another little bit of inside baseball: So Bernie Sanders went out independently to several of the Sunday shows and said, 'Hey I'd like to come on.' And in the absence of anybody from the Biden campaign, several of the [other] Sunday shows are taking him. Now, here's a question, do you think it's helpful to the Biden campaign that perhaps the leading Democrat who's going to be out on Sunday -- the day before the convention, with coverage in the Monday papers -- is Bernie Sanders?" Bernie as a top Biden surrogate certainly fuels a certain GOP talking point, but apparently Team Biden is comfortable with that.
I'll also mention that during our chat, I pressed Wallace on his assertion that Kamala Harris was "not far to the left," and we debated whether New York and New Jersey deserve credit for their relatively stable COVID status quo, given the disastrous spikes and unflattened curves they experienced early on during the pandemic. Our full exchange is here. But his remarks about so-called "hidin' Biden" generated the most attention by far, and understandably so. In three joint appearances last week, the newly-formed Democratic ticket took no questions from reporters, with the exception of one small aside. Some journalists are noticing, even at CNN:
Yes but Biden should also do one on one interviews which provide a better opportunity for follow ups and accountability. https://t.co/u3kyT5UZFC— Jonathan Swan (@jonathanvswan) August 15, 2020
The Biden campaign was MIA on the Sunday shows this morning, the day before their convention.— Andrew Clark (@AndrewHClark) August 16, 2020
No Biden, no Harris, no campaign advisors, no one.
As Chris Wallace said, it's “the damnedest thing I’ve ever seen.” https://t.co/m5eILHPhcy
The strategy from Team Biden seems to be pretty straightforward: Keep all the attention on the incumbent, hide the football on the challenger, and turn the election into the purest "referendum" possible. That may be sound tactically (though a rusty, under-prepared, and out-of-practice Biden could harm himself in future debates and interviews), but voters deserve to see both sides tested and challenged robustly in a national election, which always boils down to a choice. But as things stand now, Biden leads fairly comfortably -- currently besting Trump by substantial margins among senior citizens and independents, two groups Trump carried last cycle (by seven and four points, respectively):
Biden leads Trump 50-43 among voters age 65+; Al Gore in 2000 is the last D nom to win that demo. pic.twitter.com/zRVbCgCKPc— Ken Thomas (@KThomasDC) August 16, 2020
Right now, if Biden were to prevail, Democrats would obviously try to claim a governing mandate. But the electorate seems to be saying that the challenger's top selling point by far is who he's not, as opposed to anything he's proposing on the rare occasion that he says anything:
Another way to look at this chart: If Biden wins he would come into office without any sort of political or policy mandate other than being “not Trump”. pic.twitter.com/sXHa5Slgx2— amy walter (@amyewalter) August 14, 2020
I'll leave you with a few points about Harris' bogus "moderation" (which I raised with Wallace) and profound double standards, followed by a classy tweet from the former Vice President following the death of President Trump's brother over the weekend:
Lefty site ‘progressive punch’ ranks Harris as the Senate’s 4th most liberal member. For a rough comparison, I looked up Heritage Action’s scorecard & they’ve got Ted Cruz in their #4 slot, at the other end of the spectrum. Would journos ever frame Cruz the way they are Harris? pic.twitter.com/zq2QBiPLhL— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) August 14, 2020
Again, Kamala Harris staked her reputation on Kavanaugh being a rapist... is now running with Biden, and speaking alongside Bill Clinton, https://t.co/LpacPt54Fc— Mark Hemingway (@Heminator) August 15, 2020
Mr. President, Jill and I are sad to learn of your younger brother Robert’s passing. I know the tremendous pain of losing a loved one — and I know how important family is in moments like these. I hope you know that our prayers are with you all.— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) August 16, 2020