The Corner

Elections

Joe Biden’s New Ad Basically Skips the Democratic Primary

Joe Biden speaks in Chicago, Ill., June 28, 2019. (Kamil Krzaczynski/Reuters)

This morning Joe Biden unveils a one-minute ad entitled “Bones” that begins with a narrator declaring, “we know in our bones this election is different.”

Few people on the Trump-backing Right or Woke Left want to hear this, but this is probably the most effective message against Trump. Within the first few seconds, the commercial spotlights the Charlottesville white nationalist rally and associates Trump with that, without getting into the “very fine people” quote argument. The ad defends the Affordable Care Act, without giving much more detail about what additional changes Biden would make to the health care policy, beyond “building on Obamacare.” Notice, Biden rivals, that this ad doesn’t talk about taking away private insurance!

The ad talks about a perennial bipartisan favorite promise, “make a record investment in America’s schools,” — but it doesn’t promise to wipe away everyone’s student debt. It talks about “leading the world on climate,’ but doesn’t promise a Green New Deal that would completely overhaul the entire economy and require retrofitting every building in America. It talks about “restoring our alliances,” but doesn’t make any specific promises about Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, the Persian Gulf, or any other location where our men and women in uniform are at risk. And finally, the ad shows Biden hugging a tearful African-American teenager and declares he’ll “restore the soul of the nation.” (Promises without measurable metrics are among the easiest to keep!)

The Biden message has about as many hard edges and strong flavors as a scoop of vanilla ice cream. A lot of partisans will roll their eyes at this and label it soft-focus happy talk. But a lot of voters like soft-focus happy talk — particularly those who aren’t on Twitter and who don’t think about politics all the time!

Biden’s playing a different game from the rest of the field. He’s not bothering to court the activist left; he’s already making his pitch to the less partisan general election voters.

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