The political punditry and Washington press elites are lapping up the latest catnip from the White House: the news that Vice President Joe Biden is being sent to the battleground states of Ohio, Florida and Pennsylvania to campaign for Obama’s re-election.
The talking heads are awed at what they see as a brilliant move by the Obama White House. Their premise is that Biden is an average guy who “connects” with labor and has the “charm” needed to reach seniors.
Biden is supposed to be especially popular in Pennsylvania. Lest we forget, Average Joe is literally from Scranton! What’s more, for decades he was a senator from Delaware, a state that is part of the Philadelphia media market — the most important media market in Pennsylvania.
I see where the White House is coming from. When you need personable likability, you send in Average Joe. But no amount of charm can hide the fact that under this president, the unemployment rate topped 10% and is still at 9% years after he promised it would never exceed 8%.
Besides, Biden’s political appeal is overrated. He’s a twice-failed presidential candidate who’s been accused of plagiarism. He’s an “average guy” who lives on an estate in Delaware’s “Chateau Country,” where he has a private lake.
In fact, he doesn’t even have much influence in Pennsylvania. Biden spent an awful lot of time in the Keystone State in the run-up to the 2010 midterms, and yet Republicans picked up the governorship, a Senate seat and five House seats. Even in Northeast Pennsylvania, Biden’s oft-publicized place of birth, the GOP picked up two House seats. Republicans also picked up two seats in the Philadelphia media market (one in Pennsylvania and one in South Jersey) and held onto a Philadelphia-area seat that borders Delaware, the vice president’s home state. And Biden’s decision to convince his Amtrak-train-riding soul mate, former Republican Senator Arlen Specter, to switch parties ended up turning into a train wreck for Democrats. Biden went all out for Specter in Pennsylvania’s 2010 Democratic primary, but Specter still lost. Then, the primary’s winner, Joe Sestak, lost to a conservative Republican in the general election.
Biden’s presence on the campaign trails of Ohio and Florida didn’t stop Republicans from making big gains in those states either.
Was Biden to blame for all these failures? Probably not. But please, press guys, don’t tell us that he has the power to sway swing-state voters.
Michael J. Hudome is a Republican media consultant whose clients have included John McCain for President, all four national committees and several current and former members of the House and Senate.