It’s Wednesday, March 18. In today’s newsletter: What do Biden’s past presidential runs tell us about this one? Plus: The coronavirus warning signs that the country missed.
« TODAY IN POLITICS »
Joe Biden in the Dirksen Senate Office Building after announcing his candidacy for president in Wilmington, Delaware, on June 9, 1987. (MARK REINSTEIN / MEDIAPUNCH / IPX)
A Primary Night in the Middle of the Apocalypse
Another Tuesday, another big win for Joe Biden. The former vice president wiped out Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont in Florida, Illinois, and Arizona yesterday, all but ensuring that he’ll capture the Democratic nomination. But, as my colleague Russell Berman writes, with the coronavirus pandemic bringing the country to a collective halt, the primary itself has turned into a second-tier story.
Nothing brought home the gravity of the coronavirus pandemic quite so clearly—or fuzzily—as the pixelated visage that appeared on American television screens to claim a series of Democratic primary victories tonight.
Former Vice President Joe Biden was speaking from his home in Wilmington, Delaware, but he might as well have been in a bunker. Biden’s campaign had set up a podium and a pair of American flags, but the man poised to face President Donald Trump as the Democratic nominee had seemingly been reduced to what felt like a blurry video on a dial-up modem.
Biden’s winning big these days, but his two previous runs for the presidency were spectacular failures. Both times around, he didn’t even win a single state:
Biden has long been such an old shoe in American life that it’s hard to remember he was once just a middle-aged, middle-of-the-road third-term senator from the small state of Delaware, struggling to become a household politician. As he started his 1988 campaign, he wrote, polls showed that just one in five voters nationally recognized his name, and in Cleveland in 1986, a local television reporter mistook him for Peter Ueberroth, the high-foreheaded Los Angeles businessman who led the 1984 Olympic Games.
Read my colleague Todd Purdum on how, for Joe Biden, third time’s a charm.