Choosing to have Joe Biden deliver his stump speech at a living-history museum in Fort Dodge, Iowa, in front of a fake frontier opera house on a strip made up like an old-town Main Street, would seem to be a questionable choice for a campaign seeking to demonstrate that the candidate is up to the challenges of the present moment. Given the increasing concerns about Biden’s candidacy—his age, his penchant for gaffes, his sometimes complex relationship with the truth—the wisdom of situating him in a museum whose goal is the presentation of a kind of embalmed fantasy history seems ill-advised. Yet there he was, on Halloween day, standing on what looked like the set of a 1940s Western, speaking to a crowd heavier on people with walkers and canes than with children of trick-or-treating age.
After his speech, I asked Biden about reports that his campaign is in trouble, and failing to attract large numbers of people to events.
He smiled and gave me the partial headshake and chuckle that he uses when he’s trying, not too hard, to hide that he’s annoyed.
“I don’t find that at all. I just don’t see it. And we’re doing fine. I mean, we feel good. I think we have one of the best organizations in this state and around the country,” he said. “We’re in a position where we’ve opened up an awful lot of headquarters. We are doing very well in terms of fundraising. I’m not going to prognosticate—it’s just, you know, as that old expression goes, the proof of the pudding being the eating. But I feel good. I feel good about where we are.”