In an interview with The Hill published on Saturday, longtime adviser and spokesman to Hillary Clinton Philippe Reines discussed former Vice President Joe Biden‘s strategy for the 2020 presidential election.
Reines warned that Biden cannot rely on name recognition and high approval ratings to beat President Donald Trump in November.
“Hard to think of a president who won after letting their opponent do all the talking. Yes, he was vice president. Yes, his approval numbers are high. No, you can’t glide to November on that alone.”
The coronavirus pandemic has made traditional campaigning impossible, but Trump’s team has launched a number of controversial attacks on Biden. The president’s campaign has gone as far as to run advertisements alleging that the Democrat is experiencing cognitive decline.
Trump and his allies have also alleged that Biden is close to the Chinese government and that he — along with former President Barack Obama — attempted to undermine Trump as soon as he took office. According to Reines, Biden cannot let Trump define him.
“There will be two names on the ballot. SARS-CoV-2 isn’t one of them. Donald Trump won’t lose in a vacuum,” he said.
The former Clinton adviser argued that the Biden campaign should not view the 2020 presidential election as a referendum on Trump. Instead, he said, the former vice president needs to fight against Trump’s attacks. Reines stated that Biden has to aggressively “fight every attempt by the right to reintroduce him as someone he’s not.”
Reines stressed that Biden needs to find a way to push back against Trump’s accusations and insinuations. “You have to hold serve. If you can, it’s game, set, match. If you can’t, it’s Gore, Kerry, Clinton,” he said.
Some Democratic appear to share Reines’ concerns. They are reportedly worried that Biden could win the popular vote, but lose the electoral college.
Democratic strategist Brad Bannon argued that Biden is making the same mistakes Clinton made in 2016. Namely, he appears to be letting Trump define the conversation. Furthermore, according to Basil Smikle, the former executive director of the New York State Democratic Party, the former vice president needs to assert control over the narrative and go on the offensive.
A Biden ally who spoke to The Hill dismissed the concerns, claiming that Trump’s attacks have not been successful.
In recent weeks, Trump’s onslaught against Biden has only intensified. On Saturday, the president tweeted that Biden is “not even a factor” in the 2020 election, arguing that he is not actually running against Biden, but against the media.