Joe Biden Says It’s Not Time to Panic. But His Campaign Is In Trouble.

After back-to-back dismal finishes, former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign is scrambling to sharpen its strategy as it heads into a do-to-die stretch.

Biden advisers spent much of Wednesday on the phone with donors and supporters, seeking to reassure loyalists that it’s not time to panic. They told allies to look for more of Biden on television, both in interviews and paid ads, beginning with a trip to The View on Thursday. After months of focusing their fire on President Trump, they plan to throw more barbs at Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, the leading duo coming out of the first two states. And they started laying the groundwork to challenge former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg on questions about his wealth and his record on race.

The all-is-well mantra doesn’t mask the fact that this is not the campaign Biden set out to run. Biden has campaigned on his electability, but he finished fourth in Iowa and fifth in New Hampshire. Biden’s allies sought to calm fears by noting that Bill Clinton was one-for-11 in the early contests when he ran in 1992. What’s also true? During his three abbreviated runs for the Democratic presidential nomination, Biden has yet to finish higher than fourth in a single primary or caucus.

Biden allies say the plan has always been to grind out wins over a long primary contest, beginning in South Carolina, where two-thirds of the Democratic electorate is expected to be African American. But there are signs that Biden’s firewall in South Carolina is not impenetrable. One black legislator endorsed Buttigieg’s campaign on Wednesday. Billionaire Tom Steyer hired another to advise his campaign. There hasn’t been a good public poll of South Carolinians since Biden’s stumbles, so there’s no sure way of knowing if that bloc will stay with Biden now that he’s faltered. Heading into Iowa, 30% of black voters in South Carolina backed Biden, according to a Charleston, S.C., Post and Courier-Change Research poll. That was down from the 45% support he received among black voters according to an August installment of the same poll.

Advisers acknowledge that they have limited time to turn things around. Biden left New Hampshire on primary day to jet to South Carolina, but his public schedule does not have him returning to the state until Feb. 24, five days before the primary. Unlike his rivals, Biden isn’t spending much time in the Super Tuesday states that vote on March 3, either. Even if he performs well in South Carolina as expected, there isn’t much time for momentum to take hold before Super Tuesday. In some of those states, early balloting has already begun.

There are also questions about a possible cash crunch. Biden hasn’t reported his January fundraising tally yet, but Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware says it was the best month the campaign has seen yet. Still, these campaigns are expensive affairs, and Biden—whose fundraising has lagged that of Sanders and Buttigieg—has …read more

Source:: Time – Politics

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