Joe Biden, Generic Democrat

He was barely seen in public today, just eight days before the election — but that’s all part of the strategy.

By Lisa Lerer

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As we enter the final days of this presidential campaign, the Democratic Party is bursting with electoral energy. But very little of that energy seems to be coming from Joe Biden.

Instead, his advisers seem to hope that voters will just think of him as a generic Democrat — a broadly acceptable alternative to President Trump. Mr. Biden spent most of the day today out of public view, not making any waves.

Mr. Trump delivered speeches to thousands at three rallies across Pennsylvania, a critical battleground state. Then he was scheduled to hold an event at the White House celebrating the confirmation of his third Supreme Court nominee.

Mr. Biden spoke for less than 10 minutes in Chester, Pa., barely over the state line from his home in Delaware. Even that stop seemed hastily thrown on the schedule, was limited to a small group of reporters and was not announced in advance.

When asked by reporters about his travel schedule, Mr. Biden became a little defensive.

“There’s not been a day that hasn’t been a 12-hour day yet,” he said, citing his travels to swing states and virtual events. Immediately after he finished speaking, his campaign announced a Friday trip to Wisconsin and Iowa; he also has visits planned to Georgia and Florida this week.

The candidates’ contrasting itineraries underscored their divergent approaches to health and safety amid the coronavirus pandemic. Yet, the reality is that Mr. Biden’s light schedule of public appearances has also been a core tenet of his campaign strategy.

The Biden campaign’s bet is that it can win by giving the president exactly what he craves: dominance of the news cycle. In many ways, Mr. Biden is not so much a candidate running on his own merits as an avatar of what he is not — Mr. Trump.

In a poll released this month by the Pew Research Center, 63 percent of Mr. Biden’s supporters said their vote was more a vote against Mr. Trump than a vote for Mr. Biden. At this point, the Biden campaign is probably happy to keep it that way.

For his part, Mr. Trump rarely lets a TV camera pass by without mentioning Mr. Biden’s lack of campaign events.

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