Joe Biden may not have actually been on location at the California Democratic Party Convention this week, but the 2020 frontrunner’s presence was still felt as opponents took aim at him for skipping out on the event.
A number of prospective Democratic candidates appeared at the convention for the nation’s largest state, and the largest delegate haul for the upcoming primary. They promoted progressive agendas and issued calls for President Donald Trump’s impeachment, but many also set their sights on the former vice president.
Biden skipped out on the San Francisco convention in favor of campaigning in Ohio, where he spoke at an event commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, a seminal moment in the gay rights movement. As USA Today noted, some of Biden’s opponents believed he should have been in the Golden State instead.
“I don’t know if he’s attempting a Rose Garden strategy or if he’s afraid to face the progressive music,” Norman Solomon, a convention delegate and activist supporting candidate Bernie Sanders, told USA Today. “He was not going to be very popular at this convention, but his refusal to show up only reinforces the idea that he’s an elitist and he is more interested in collecting big checks in California then being in genuine touch with grassroots activists and people who care about the Democratic Party’s future.”
California has taken on greater importance in the 2020 primary, moving from its spot at the end of the schedule to just after Super Tuesday, making its delegate haul important for candidates seeking the party’s nomination.
Biden has been a top target both for Donald Trump and his opponents since emerging as the Democratic primary frontrunner. The former vice president was recently criticized by freshman Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for not going far enough in efforts to address climate change. An advocate for the so-called “Green New Deal,” the Bronx representative said that Biden’s so-called “middle ground” approach on climate change was not enough.
As ABC News noted, Biden responded by saying that he has always been at the forefront of the climate change debate, which has been a key issue for him dating back to 1987.
The attacks have done little to dent Joe Biden’s stature in the race, where he remains the clear frontrunner amid a crowded pack. Biden began leading polls before officially entering the race, and has maintained the lead since he announced his candidacy. The poll aggregator FiveThirtyEight shows that Biden has maintained a double-digit lead, and has been able to hold onto much of the post-announcement bounce that came afterward.