Looking at the latest returns as of this morning, there really wasn’t any good news for Bernie Sanders last night. Joe Biden swept the four states that have been called thus far and, if anything, expanded the leads he held in most areas. He took nearly 80% (!) of the vote in Mississippi, 60% in Missouri and more than 50% (so far) in Michigan, which was supposed to be Sanders’ last stand. It was a bit closer in Idaho, but that was probably because of all the early voting. (Warren, Bloomberg and Buttigieg all took a small share of the vote there, leaving Biden with a plurality.
There’s not much reason to think North Dakota will deliver any real hope for Sanders once they get their caucus counting figured out. Washington may still wind up being the oddball because all of their voting was done by mail, with many ballots cast before the South Carolina turnaround. And as NBC News reported, Uncle Joe was already talking about Sanders in the past tense at his victory rally last night.
“I want to thank Bernie Sanders and his supporters for their tireless energy and their passion. We share a common goal. And together we’ll defeat Donald Trump. We’ll defeat him together,” Biden said in Philadelphia.
In rhetoric and demeanor Tuesday night, Biden seemed like the long-dominant front-runner of 2019 before his campaign took a nosedive in the early states. He evoked the need to unify the country to restore its soul. He warned that America’s character was at stake and that four more years of President Donald Trump could permanently alter it.
Joe might want to ease up on that talk a bit if he really wants to pull Sanders’ followers back into the fold. The elderly socialist has already said he’s not dropping out (at least not yet) and his spokesman reiterated that message last night.
“The tougher the primary is for the Democratic nominee, the better, more battle-tested the nominee will be,” Sanders aide David Sirota tweeted. “Establishment demands for silence in the name of ‘unity’ — or for the end of a contested the primary — don’t serve the cause of defeating Trump. They weaken that cause.”
Campaign spokeswoman Briahna Joy Gray added: “I, for one, am extremely excited about this debate all the moderates are panicking about…America finally gets to see Biden defend his ideas, or lack thereof, on Sunday.”
So it looks like the Democrats are really going to do this. If Biden is the nominee and somehow manages to beat Donald Trump in November, he will be the oldest person to ever take a seat in the Oval Office on his very first day on the job. And the East Wing will wind up being occupied by either Jill Biden or Joe’s younger sister, as soon as he works out which is which.
Age really shouldn’t be an issue for any candidate… until it is. And in the case of Joe Biden, his advancing years and mental acuity are going to be in the spotlight right up until election day. What I really can’t wait for is the parade of media talking heads who questioned Donald Trump’s mental health for three years but will now lecture the country about how inappropriate it is for non-doctors to try to diagnose Biden’s grasp on reality.
And while the majority of the media will probably avoid the topic like the plague, the voters will notice. The normal “gaffes” that most politicians are generally forgiven for will each be brought into stark relief every time Uncle Joe forgets which state he’s in or goes on a tirade about “AR-14s” to some lying, dog-faced pony soldier who dares to question his position on gun control.
Does the Biden campaign even have a strategy in place for this? Will they try to skip any remaining debates with Sanders and restrict Joe’s public appearances to short, well-scripted remarks on a teleprompter? (I suppose they could try that and blame the coronavirus.) They can’t keep him under a blanket forever. He’s eventually going to have to debate Trump and if he loses the thread in the face of Trump’s anticipated brutal assaults, I can’t imagine the public coming away thinking he’s ready to be the leader of the free world.
Keep your eye on how this plays out. Bernie Sanders may, at this point, be counting on primary voters coming down with an early case of buyer’s remorse. And while the odds are long, he may still prove to be correct.