The Corner

Elections

Joe Biden’s Wake-Up Call

Joe Biden greets audience members during a campaign stop in Londonderry, N.H., July 13, 2019. (Brian Snyder/Reuters)

The evidence continues to mount that the first Democratic debate was a wake-up call for Joe Biden’s presidential campaign. Brian Schwartz of CNBC reports that Team Biden hired Democratic fixer Michael Sheehan for “strategic consulting” on the day after the debate.

While Biden’s confrontation with Kamala Harris over busing was the main story of the night, Biden’s aides could not have been cheered by his overall performance. He stumbled, appeared confused, and was wavering in many of his answers. Afterward, Jill Biden had to rescue him from a semi-incoherent interview with NBC’s Garrett Haake.

The debate took a toll. Biden remains the front-runner, but his national lead is shrinking, and his lead in New Hampshire has narrowed as well. (At this writing, there’s been no significant polling out of Iowa since the debate, and his lead in South Carolina remains huge.) Hiring Sheehan is a sign that the Biden campaign recognizes he can’t win without sharper answers.

Since the debate, Biden has also apologized for his remarks about working with segregationist Democrats. He’s come out swinging against Medicare for All. He’s acting as though he really does want the Democratic nomination. We’ll see in two weeks if these adjustments are enough to bring Biden victory in a debate. Or if the fundamental problem is the candidate himself.

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