Close your eyes and listen to Joe Biden’s 2020 pitch, and you might hear a very familiar echo.
“This is not who we are, the way we are treating people,” Biden said in his first interview as a candidate on ABC’s “The View.” “There is an American creed. It’s about decency, honor, including everyone, leaving no one behind.”
That sounds a lot like this, from 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton:
“I want to be a president for all Americans, not some Americans – Democrats, Republicans, independents, every single American. I want to be the president for those who vote for me and those who vote against me because I want to bring our country together.”
And then there’s this from Biden’s announcement video:
“We are in the battle for the soul of this nation. I believe history will look back on four years of this president and all he embraces as an aberrant moment in time. But if we give Donald Trump eight years in the White House, he will forever and fundamentally alter the character of this nation — who we are — and I cannot stand by and watch that happen.”
Which sounds a lot like this from Clinton:
“And the kinds of things that you’ve been hearing from Donald Trump, demeaning, defaming groups of Americans, people who have every right to be respected by someone who wants to be President of the United States, and he stands there and mocks a reporter with a disability, and he calls women pigs, and he calls Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals, and he demeans Muslims, and attacks a Gold Star family whose son died in action in Iraq – that’s not who we are. So, yes, we have a lot of plans, but we also have values, my friends. And we’re going to stand up for American values.”
Some of these similarities can be written off to typical political rhetoric. ALL politicians talk about value and character.
But that doesn’t explain the clear overlaps between the pitch Clinton made against Trump in 2016 and the argument Biden is constructing in the early days of his 2020 presidential bid.
Clinton’s argument boiled down to this: Donald Trump is not the best of us. He represents an aberrant strain of American, uh, gusto that should not be rewarded. He wants to divide the country, not unite it.
Which is, essentially, the exact same argument Biden is making. Here’s Biden from a stop in New Hampshire (hat tip CNN’s Casey Riddle) on Monday:
“I’m running for three reasons. I want to restore the soul of this country. And secondly, I really want to, quite frankly, rebuild the backbone of this country, this time bringing everybody along, the middle class. The middle class has built this country. And thirdly, what I want to do is I want to, we talked about earlier, unite the country.”
That’s a pitch Clinton could have made. In fact, she basically did!
The Point: Why is Biden pursuing a failed, four-year-old blueprint? He’s banking on the fact that after four years of Trump, voters will be much more open to an appeal to decency and a return to normal.