Did Covid-19 benefit Biden? Pandemic helped him 'hide his biggest weakness, which is himself', book claims
President Joe Biden was not among the favorite candidates to win the 2020 presidential race at the beginning but eventually, he got the support of Lady Luck to emerge the winner and took oath as the 46th commander-in-chief in January, succeeding Donald Trump. Now, a new book has claimed that Biden won the presidency because of the Covid-19 pandemic which helped him “hide his biggest weakness, which is himself”. The book, ‘Lucky: How Joe Biden Barely Won the Presidency’, penned by NBC News’s senior political analyst Jonathan Allen and The Hill’s senior correspondent Amie Parnes, claimed that Biden did almost everything wrong during the last presidential election and ran a lethargic campaign that had once neared bankruptcy. The former vice president remained stationed at his residence in Wilmington, Delaware, and ran his campaign from there as the pandemic spread but yet looked somebody able to take up the presidency as the incumbent president, Trump, struggled with the handling of the pandemic. The authors quoted an aide of Biden who bluntly defined the Democrat’s campaign strategy as: “You put your dumb uncle in the basement.” Anita Dunn, a senior advisor to Biden even said that “Covid was the best thing that happened to him” because it helped him hide his failings.
One one advisor of Trump said: “They used coronavirus as an excuse to keep him in the basement, and it was smart. Biden was able to hide his biggest weakness, which is himself. And he did it with an excuse that sounded responsible.”
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Biden reportedly had a disastrous start to the Democratic primaries last year as he finished fourth in the Iowa caucuses and fifth in the New Hampshire primary. However, it was after the moderate wing of the party unified behind him and a number of his competitors in the race for the presidency stepped down that Biden got a real push. He tasted his first major success in the South Carolina primary on February 29 after the state’s influential leader Jim Clyburn backed him and it was followed by a sweeping win in the first Super Tuesday of March 3 which happened after a number of centrist contenders pulled out. Biden eventually beat his progressive challenger Bernie Sanders to win the primary race and become the presidential nominee to take on Trump. On November 3, Biden defeated Trump by more than seven million votes to clinch the presidency.
'Obama had a deep fear about Biden'
Allen and Parnes, who have written a number of behind-the-scenes political books including ‘Shattered’, which is about Hillary Clinton’s unsuccessful presidential bid in 2016, said in their latest publication that former president Barack Obama was reluctant to support Biden because he feared he was a “tragicomic caricature of an aging politician having his last hurrah”. Obama’s fears about Biden actually “ran deep - deeper than defeat”, the book added. “Obama worried that his former vice president would embarrass himself on the campaign trail and that the people around him would not be able to prevent a belly-flop. He wanted reassurance that Biden's legacy would be protected, that his staff would not let him become a tragicomic caricature of an aging politician having his last hurrah”, it read.
The new book said Obama initially held off endorsing his former deputy because he “seemed to be enamored with a former Texas congressman, Beto O'Rourke”. “For many Democrats, Biden simply seemed unsuited for a modern campaign. Obama's allies sometimes explained the former president's reluctance to bless Biden's candidacy as fear that Biden would dishonor himself with a bad campaign,” ‘Lucky’ read.
Obama eventually endorsed Biden in April last year despite saying once that his former vice president did not have it to connect with voters. It was Sanders’s threatening run that saw a number of prominent Democrats backing Biden in the end.
Biden also had another allegation against him and it was about touching women in a way that made it uncomfortable. According to the book, the former veep was so out of touch that he failed to see his habit of touching women as a problem because he “didn’t think he did anything wrong”.
'Biden won because he was a safe choice'
According to Allen and Parnes, Biden won the election because he was a safe choice and the voters settled on him despite their lack of enthusiasm. They wrote that the Democratic Party was not willing to take a chance on anyone who could ruin the opportunity to see Trump go out of office.
“Everything else, he’d (Biden) gotten wrong. He’d run a lousy campaign, flubbed debates, spent so much money on Iowa and New Hampshire that he teetered on the edge of insolvency, lost three straight states to start the primary, and allowed himself to be defined by his frailties,” the book read. Biden won despite having a “bland message and a blank agenda,” the book said. Biden became the oldest president at the age of 78, breaking the record of Trump who entered the White House at 70.
Biden also “offered no revolution, no reformation, and no fresh look” at a time when the Democratic Party saw serious divisions between the progressive and the centrist wings. “Factions of his party would want to superimpose their priorities on him because, on most issues, he was more reactive and cautious than his fellow Democrats. Amid a series of schisms in his party - the populists against the elites, the progressives against the centrists, and the next-generation leaders against the old guard - Biden had stood mostly to the side. Rather than a path forward, he proposed backtracking to the pre-Trump era,” the book said.
Biden’s campaign faced another serious threat when one of his former aides, Tara Reade, accused him of sexually assaulting her in 1993, when he was a senator from Delaware. She said he touched her private parts without her consent and when she pulled away, he got angry and pointed at her to say: “You're nothing to me, nothing.” Biden never found the accusations of being handsy serious enough and never apologized for them asking: “What’s the big deal?” One of his longtime allies said he didn’t think the former vice president understood the level of the problem. “He constantly thought ‘Yeah, so what? What's the big deal?’ He needed a lot of convincing. Every time someone flagged that it was a problem, it went right over his head,” he said.