For two men whose political legacies are deeply intertwined, the contrast between Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and his former boss, President Barack Obama, was a sharp one on Tuesday, CNBC informed.
In Warm Springs, Georgia, famous for its healing waters, Biden made his closing argument for election, pledging to “unite the nation.” He quoted Pope Francis on the higher purpose of politics and promised that “as a people and a country, we can overcome a devastating virus … heal a suffering world … restore our soul and save our country.”
Four hundred miles south of Warm Springs, in Orlando, Florida, Obama made his own closing argument for Biden’s election at a drive-in rally.
Biden “is not going to screw up testing. He’s not going to call scientists idiots. He’s not going to host a super spreader event at the White House, and then take it on a tour all across the country!” said Obama, whose critique of Trump only got sharper from there. “Our current president, he whines that “60 Minutes” is too tough. Do you think he is going to stand up to dictators? He thinks Leslie Stahl is a bully!”
“This is not normal behavior. We wouldn’t tolerate it from a coworker. We wouldn’t tolerate it from a football coach. … Even ‘Florida Man’ wouldn’t be doing some of this stuff!” Obama exclaimed, name-dropping a popular Twitter account that pokes fun at bizarre news stories in the state.
At first glance, it might seem like Biden “went high,” appealing to Americans’ better angels, while Obama “went low,” appealing to people’s desire to see Trump mocked the same way he mocks his opponents.
But there’s more to it than that.
With a week to go before Election Day and more than 60 million ballots already cast, the three members of the Biden “A-team” — the former vice president; his running mate, Kamala Harris, and now, in the homestretch, Obama — are each delivering a slightly different message but one that is aimed squarely at a key voting bloc that could swing the election.
Biden is speaking primarily to crossover Republicans and independent voters, both of whom are key to winning states that Trump won in 2016, such as Georgia, Iowa and Michigan.
Meanwhile, Obama’s message is aimed at younger voters, precisely the ones who would recognize his “Florida Man” quip, at Black voters and at Hispanic voters, who cheered every time Obama said, “Si se puede” in Orlando on Tuesday.
Harris, the third member of the A-team, has been strategically deployed in recent days to appeal to still more distinct constituencies: Black and urban voters in the Midwest and in the Southwest.
A Trump campaign spokeswoman did not immediately reply to a request for comment on Biden’s final week strategy. But the President has been relentless in his criticism of Biden and, increasingly, Obama.
Taken together, the Biden campaign’s three different messages and their respective messengers represent a cohesive and aggressive strategy, one that reflects both their awareness of where Biden’s vulnerabilities lie and a striking degree of confidence in a hugely expanded electoral map.
On Friday, Harris hosted a drive-in rally at Morehouse College, an elite, historically black college in Atlanta. As the first Black woman ever to appear on a major party ticket, Harris, who is multiracial but identifies as Black, is making history in a year when Black Americans have risen up to demand equal protections on a scale not seen since the Civil Rights movement 60 years ago.
On Saturday, Harris visited Cleveland, Ohio, where she decried legal efforts by the Trump campaign and the Republican Party to limit voters’ access to the polls. Harris called on Black voters to overcome these obstacles in part to honor the legacy of civil rights leaders who fought, and died, for ballot access during the last century.
“Why are they going through this effort (to suppress voter turnout)?” Harris said of the GOP. “The answer is because they know our power. They know our power. They know when we vote, things change.”
The following day, Harris took the same message of Black political empowerment to Michigan, where she spoke Sunday at a drive-in service at the Triumph Church, before crisscrossing the state for the rest of the day.
Black voters in Midwestern cities are an absolutely critical group for Democrats, as evidenced by the 2016 collapse of the so-called “Blue Wall,” a line of solidly Democratic states that President Donald Trump won by tiny margins.
Post-election analysis showed that in several of those states, most notably Michigan and Pennsylvania, the number of urban voters who sat out the election was greater than Trump’s total margin of victory, suggesting that if these voters had turned out for Democrat Hillary Clinton, she would most likely have won the state.
This week, Harris is going to the Southwest. She was in Nevada on Tuesday and will be in Arizona on Thursday and Texas on Friday.
Democrats have done well in Nevada for the past decade. But concerns this year about possibly weak Democratic turnout amid the coronavirus pandemic, coupled with Trump’s decision to target the state, have made it less reliably blue than polls suggest.