CNN: Uninspiring Biden Brought 'Get Off My Lawn' Energy to Debate

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Following the ABC Democratic debate in New Hampshire on Friday, CNN’s panel of liberal journalists and activists were mostly in agreement when panning the performance and campaign strategy of former Vice President Joe Biden. Between them, the panel painted an image of an “angry” old man shouting “get off my lawn” across the stage, while failing to “inspire” people to donate to his campaign.

Former Obama adviser David Axelrod seemed perplexed by Biden’s “uneven” performance where he would wander back and forth between being pleasant and angry. “There were times when it worked, there were times when it got a little bit like the ‘get off my lawn’ kind of thing where you just want to move back from the TV set. He got in a weird exchange with Tom Steyer, of all people, who didn't really warrant an angry rebuttal but got one anyway,” he gawked.

Axelrod was also befuddled by why Biden would go and admit this campaign was prepared to get walloped again (click “expand”):

The oddest thing – I thought he was more energetic than past debates. But started off and this was a tell by saying, “we took a hit in Iowa and we're going to take a hit here too.” Announcing -- usually you have staff go out and spin expectations. And you don’t do it from the stage of a debate.

So, I think that gave you a little window into the mindset of the campaign. And they're looking to South Carolina. A lot of this debate sounded like it was a South Carolina debate around issues of racial justice and equity. But I think Biden clearly is indicating that he wants to get out of New Hampshire and past New Hampshire and trying to get to South Carolina.

 

 

About 11 minutes later, Jess McIntosh, a former campaign aide to Hillary Clinton, agreed with Axelrod’s assessment by saying she thought “Biden's energy was really erratic tonight.” As she explained the situation on stage, Biden would go from a “delightful” guy whose “natural state is liking everybody” to “yelling at us again.” Adding: “I didn't understand which Biden he's trying to bring tonight.”

CNN chief political analyst Gloria Borger had a simple explanation for Biden’s all-over-the-place-energy:

BORGER: Don’t you think he was told to be energetic?

AXELROD: Yeah.

MCINTOSH: Yeah.

BORGER: Because he hadn’t been energetic. And sometimes when people tell you to be energetic you over-perform.

He mistakes energy for angry. And I don’t think angry plays,” Axelrod responded.

Former Clinton White House Press Secretary Joe Lockhart tried to defend Biden’s campaign strategy by arguing that the VP was treating it like a marathon. “If you can't raise money (…) then it's not a marathon. It's an out,” Axelrod countered.

“For whatever reason, he hasn’t been able to inspire. He doesn't raise money online like some of the other candidates do. He doesn't inspire that kind of loyalty,” Axelrod added in a blistering critique. “I think that it is a problematic deal for him if he comes in fourth again. Nobody ever fourths their way to the presidency.”

Though they didn’t get to it when they came back, host Chris Cuomo went into the commercial break asking a very telling question about the Biden campaign: “Have we ever seen it before where the presumptive leader of the nomination process, which is supposed to be Biden, is like the most cash-starved of anybody in the top echelon?

The transcript is below, click "expand" to read:

CNN’s America’s Choice 2020
February 7, 2020
10:24:23 p.m. Eastern

CHRIS CUOMO: Joe Biden, David Axelrod, was coming out trying to continue this idea of being spunk. More Jolten Joe. How did it go?

DAVID AXELROD: Uneven, I would say. There were times when it worked, there were times when it got a little bit like the “get off my lawn” kind of thing where you just want to move back from the TV set. He got in a weird exchange with Tom Steyer, of all people, who didn't really warrant an angry rebuttal but got one anyway.

The oddest thing – I thought he was more energetic than past debates. But started off and this was a tell by saying, “we took a hit in Iowa and we're going to take a hit here too.” Announcing -- usually you have staff go out and spin expectations. And you don’t do it from the stage of a debate.

So, I think that gave you a little window into the mindset of the campaign. And they're looking to South Carolina. A lot of this debate sounded like it was a South Carolina debate around issues of racial justice and equity. But I think Biden clearly is indicating that he wants to get out of New Hampshire and past New Hampshire and trying to get to South Carolina.

(…)

10:34:19 p.m. Eastern

AXELROD: I’m talking about Biden. And I’m talking about Elizabeth Warren. I think they both need to have a good day here. That was what mystified me about what Biden said. He has to do passively well here. And if they're surrendering, I think that's – I don’t think you can just park that and say, “Well, I'm the front runner, but ignore the first two fourth-place finishes, I’m going to come on strong now.”

CUOMO: But that's a narrative built in for him. Is that, he would underperform in the first couple states and then he’d really start to kick it in.

GLORIA BORGER: Not badly.

(…)

10:35:26 p.m. Eastern

BORGER: But we know who didn't win Iowa.

JESS MCINTOSH: We do. I thought Biden's energy was really erratic tonight. Sometimes he was really – He was exactly the guy I wanted. The Vindman moment followed by the hug of Bernie just sort of reminded you that Joe Biden’s natural state is liking everybody. And what a delightful alternative that is to what we have now.

JAN JONES: They are all our children.

MCINTOSH: And—They’re all our children. And then he would turn to yelling at us again. And I didn't understand which Biden he's trying to bring tonight.

[Crosstalk]

BORGER: Don’t you think he was told to be energetic?

AXELROD: Yeah.

MCINTOSH: Yeah.

BORGER: Because he hadn’t been energetic. And sometimes when people tell you to be energetic you over-perform.

AXELROD: He mistakes energy for angry. And I don’t think angry plays.

(…)

10:36:48 p.m. Eastern

AXELROD (to Joe Lockhart): I agree with you. But you’ve been in politics. And you understand that if you can't raise money, then you can't -- then it's not a marathon. It's an out.

And that's his problem. Is that he's not raising money. He had a cancel buys in South Carolina and so on, to fortify what he's doing here. For whatever reason, he hasn’t been able to inspire. He doesn't raise money online like some of the other candidates do. He doesn't inspire that kind of loyalty.

I think that it is a problematic deal for him if he comes in fourth again. Nobody ever fourths their way to the presidency.

(…)

10:42:11 p.m. Eastern

CUOMO: Have we ever seen it before where the presumptive leader of the nomination process, which is supposed to be Biden, is like the most cash-starved of anybody in the top echelon?

BORGER: No.

CUOMO: This is a weird one that we're all living through. We’ll talk about that right after this.

(…)

NB Daily Campaigns & Elections 2020 Presidential Debates Political Groups Liberals & Democrats Cable Television CNN Cuomo PrimeTime Video Jess McIntosh David Axelrod Chris Cuomo Gloria Borger Joe Biden

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