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What Kamala Harris and AOC can't make Joe Biden do

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The Lead panel discusses.

Posted: Jul 6, 2019 10:00 AM
Updated: Jul 6, 2019 10:00 AM

Anyone expecting to see a major reboot in the Biden campaign or a Joe Biden 2.0 just doesn't know the former vice president. He knows what he knows, which isn't everything, and is not likely to refashion his image based on a poll or a debate performance.

But the fact that he sat down for an extended interview with CNN's Chris Cuomo does indicate that Biden and his team recognize they need to do some things differently. First, Biden has to get out on the campaign trail more, something he accomplished over the past few days in Iowa. Second, he needs to be more accessible to the media, which help shape the view of many Democratic voters in the early voting states. In short, he needs to not look like the nomination is his to lose, but instead his to win.

Finally, he needs a better pushback to the kinds of charges directed at him in the Democratic presidential xebate by Sen. Kamala Harris. Here was one of the more interesting parts of the Cuomo interview. Biden made clear he was surprised not by the attack, but by the way Harris delivered it, in such a personal way. He implicitly charged Harris with a bit of demagoguery — that she criticized his position while holding essentially the same position herself. But he visibly pulled back from elaborating, saying he is determined to stay above what he calls the scrum.

Is this a good strategy? Can he survive in a modern campaign while not going personally after other Democrats? That remains to be seen. What's not in doubt is he's not likely to change his views.

The rest of the interview was a much clearer expression of how he intends to run this race and where he stands on the issues. Apart from his own personal philosophy and ideology, I know Biden will not lurch to the left to be nominated. He doesn't believe that's where Democratic voters are. He smartly cited the 2018 midterm results. While much of the media focused on Alexandria Ocasio Cortez' victory, Biden's team was watching Abigail Spanberger, a former CIA operative who upset Republican Dave Brat in Virginia's 7th District, which has been reliably Republican for decades.

The Democratic victory in 2018 was the result of center-left Democrats winning against more left-wing opponents in primaries. According to the Third Way think tank, 33 of the 40 Democrats who won in swing districts defeated someone on their left on primary day.

Biden also doesn't want to do anything that will open himself up to Trump-style attacks on election day in November. That's why he'll stick with his version of Medicare for those who want it rather than Medicare for All. Again, from Third Way, no Democratic candidate in a swing district ran an ad touting Medicare for All.

As Ron Brownstein rightly pointed out Friday, Biden is the only top-tier candidate who is for preserving the private insurance market for those who have it and want to keep it. Biden's team believes that is a key element in winning or losing the health care debate next fall.

He also made the point that he believes our system of political asylum works if it is properly administered, following both humane practices and the law. That puts him at odds with many of the candidates running against him and some Democratic party voters. But Biden is betting that a plan to reform immigration policy is both the better approach and inoculates the party from charges that it is for open borders.

On style, this interview was a very good performance by Biden. Make no mistake, he's no Obama or Clinton. His strength is his passion, not his performance skills, so don't expect major changes there.

In the end, some of Biden's tactics will change as the campaign moves forward, but his strategy won't. The voters will decide if he's got it right.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 35419

Reported Deaths: 1230
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds290851
DeSoto190019
Madison144638
Jones120349
Harrison113616
Rankin108715
Neshoba104577
Forrest99343
Lauderdale96381
Scott81915
Jackson77519
Washington72213
Copiah65315
Leake63520
Lee61222
Oktibbeha61128
Grenada5949
Warren59421
Holmes58641
Wayne56218
Yazoo5536
Lowndes54813
Lamar5347
Leflore53156
Lincoln52935
Pike49920
Lafayette4974
Sunflower4778
Monroe45635
Panola4486
Covington4355
Bolivar40518
Simpson3933
Attala38424
Newton37510
Tate35213
Adams35120
Pontotoc3466
Marion32712
Claiborne30111
Chickasaw29719
Winston29511
Pearl River28832
Noxubee2788
Jasper2776
Marshall2773
Walthall2627
Clay25811
Union25211
Smith24612
Clarke22325
Coahoma2226
Lawrence2092
Yalobusha2079
Tallahatchie1954
Kemper18414
Carroll18111
Montgomery1713
Calhoun1645
Humphreys16310
Itawamba1468
Tippah14511
Hancock14413
Webster13411
Jefferson1263
Tunica1233
Jefferson Davis1204
Prentiss1204
George1163
Greene11310
Amite1103
Alcorn1002
Quitman991
Wilkinson989
Tishomingo971
Perry874
Choctaw754
Stone742
Franklin542
Sharkey480
Benton460
Issaquena101
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 49892

Reported Deaths: 1077
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson6433170
Mobile4753139
Montgomery4430112
Tuscaloosa263253
Madison21199
Marshall192611
Shelby164225
Lee157237
Morgan12695
Baldwin120711
Walker106131
Elmore102920
Dallas9969
Etowah95114
DeKalb9417
Franklin93216
Autauga67614
Russell6750
Chambers67427
Unassigned65328
Butler65129
Tallapoosa62869
Limestone6223
Houston5857
Cullman5716
Lauderdale5686
St. Clair5133
Colbert4956
Calhoun4905
Lowndes48122
Escambia4808
Pike4725
Coffee4244
Jackson4182
Covington41412
Barbour3942
Dale3911
Talladega3897
Bullock37710
Marengo35211
Hale34823
Chilton3232
Clarke3126
Wilcox3038
Blount2961
Winston2965
Sumter29113
Marion27514
Pickens2696
Randolph2589
Monroe2553
Perry2362
Conecuh2308
Bibb2211
Macon2159
Choctaw21212
Greene1959
Henry1533
Washington1418
Crenshaw1273
Lawrence1250
Cherokee1237
Geneva960
Lamar871
Clay852
Fayette821
Coosa651
Cleburne421
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