Biden resets his own Covid goalposts at CNN town hall

A path to citizenship would be essential to any law reforming immigration.

They were the kind of pledges that could come back to prosecute a politician. But last but not least, Biden is an experienced politician. And often, during his CNN City Hall, the commitments came with reservations.

The end of July deadline? It was about the availability of vaccines.

These school openings? Five days a week was desirable.

Immigration reform? Even a piecemeal bill that deals with refugees would be an achievement.

Biden’s town hall on Tuesday evening went like this: a pinch of news, a nuance, and a general attempt not to get too involved in anything just to fixate on it.

“I’m tired of talking about Donald Trump,” Biden once said, describing his predecessor as “the former man”.

“I don’t want to talk about him anymore,” he added. He then talked a little more about Trump and hinted strongly that the 45th President hadn’t called him since his election. He accused Trump of no longer using vaccines and criticized him for failing to condemn white nationalist groups.

The White House can be an island location – which is especially the case during the pandemic, when even the brief amount of time a president can venture outside is further limited and when the premises are less crowded, even for public health reasons. At times, Biden seemed like someone who longed for a fundamental interaction with people beyond family members and those who consider politics their calling.

He was long-winded, self-centered all night, and apologized for talking too long. He took the time to ponder each question and ask about each questioner, pushing for personal details and trying to convey empathy about their concerns.

He asked a second grader who was accompanying her mother to town hall if she had been to school, then told her he realized the Covid pandemic was likely to be scary for her.

“Don’t be afraid, you’ll be fine,” Biden said to the girl. “We’ll make sure mom is fine too.”

When a Kenosha County public defender asked about the law enforcement impact following the shooting of Jacob Blake – a black man who was later paralyzed after being shot in the back by a police officer – Biden noted that he too was once one was public defender, and by the way, they deserve to be paid the same as prosecutors.

He was careful to pick the spots where he was pinned on the left. He defended a $ 15 minimum wage increase but no executive action to wipe away $ 50,000 in student debt relief. He insisted that people should not be detained for drug use violations, but went to great lengths to stress that he had no plans to disappoint the police.

The White House views the Town Hall format as favorable to Biden, whose tactile style of retail policy has largely gotten out of hand for nearly a year due to the pandemic. During the campaign, some of his brightest moments came in town halls, noticed a Biden consultant and described him as pleasant around for walking back and forth with “real people”.

Indeed, he flashed warmth and invited a woman to stay afterwards so he could help her chronically ill son and joked with the audience. “President Hu,” he said of the former Chinese leader. “No joke”, although it could have been.

That he chose Wisconsin was both practical and political. The state represents a microcosm of the country. Politically, it’s roughly equally divided where rural Trump-loving counties have resisted mask mandates, while large urban centers like Milwaukee have overwhelmingly voted for Biden.

His presence in the state on Tuesday – along with a visit to Michigan later this week – is confirmation that the map for 2020 isn’t all that different from the one for 2022, which features both Senator Ron Johnson’s seat and that Governorship to be challenged.

“There is no denying that Wisconsin is kind of the ultimate battlefield state. People often say that the route to the White House, the route to the Senate, the route to the house is through Wisconsin, ”said Melissa Baldauff, a Democratic strategist and former senior advisor to Governor Tony Evers. “I think we’ve seen this over many election cycles.”

The election of Wisconsin, and Milwaukee in particular, was also an unmistakable gesture of the central role the swing state will play in Biden’s own political future. Biden was scheduled to deliver his speech at the Democratic National Convention in town before moving it to his home in Wilmington, Delaware, citing restrictions due to the pandemic. The move was viewed as a robbery of Milwaukee, what was left of an already stripped down convention. The Biden campaign had privately vowed to make amends for the city, according to several Wisconsin Democrats.

However, initially there were local concerns that the event was going to be more of a problem than a favor. The town hall was planned at the same time that Evers was to deliver his budget address. Biden’s event was later postponed an hour to allow Evers to personally escort him to the Milwaukee airport.

John Anzalone, a Biden advisor and campaign pollster, asked for insight into the state’s election and shared a screenshot of the numbers behind the president’s narrow victory.

“20,108 insights,” he wavered – the exact margin by which Biden beat “the former man”.

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