Holding a consistent edge in the polls over President Trump with a month and a half to go until Election Day in November, Joe Biden’s sticking to his game plan of slamming the president over the coronavirus pandemic and the economy.
Biden, noticeably, didn't use his campaign events Monday to emphasize the new Supreme Court fight.
In a 30-minute speech in the crucial general election battleground state of Wisconsin, the Democratic presidential nominee on Monday kept his spotlight on the coronavirus pandemic, marking the “tragic milestone” as the nation topped 200,000 COVID-19 related deaths. And he once again blasted the president’s handling of the pandemic, charging “Trump panicked. The virus was too big for him.”
The former vice president also contrasted his working-class upbringing with Trump’s privileged background, with Biden repeating his argument that the president “sees the world from Park Avenue. I see it from where I grew up in a town like this, in Scranton, Pa.”
And he made a personal plea to voters in key swing states who supported President Barack Obama in 2012 but backed Trump four years later, stressing “you will be seen, heard and respected by me.”
But what Biden didn’t mention was the fierce fight over the push by the president and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to quickly name and confirm a successor to Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died on Friday at age 87.
And during a local TV interview after his event in Manitowoc, Wis., Biden resisted answering questions on whether he’d support a move to increase the number of high court justices if he wins the White House and the Democrats retake control of the Senate.
"It’s a legitimate question, but let me tell you why I’m not going answer it. Because it will shift the focus, and that's what he [Trump] wants. He always wants to change the subject,” answered Biden, who in years past and during the 2020 Democratic presidential primaries opposed a move known as court reform by supporters and court packing by opponents.
Biden is also resisting the full-court press by the Trump campaign to release a list of his potential Supreme Court nominees.
Breaking with precedent, then-presumptive GOP presidential nominee Trump in May of 2016 released a list of conservative potential high court nominees, a move aimed at placating those on the right who viewed Trump suspiciously at the time. Earlier this month, the president added 20 names to his list.
Earlier this year Biden announced that if elected, he’d name the first Black woman to the Supreme Court. He told reporters in June that he was “putting together a list of a group of African American women who are qualified and have the experience to be on the court.”
Biden at the time emphasized that “I am not going to release that until we go further down the line in vetting them, as well,” and never committed to a specific date to roll out the list.
“It’s a game to them, a play to gin up emotions and anger,” Biden said on Sunday as he pushed back against the president’s reelection team. “There’s a reason why no presidential candidate other than Donald Trump has ever done such a thing.”
The Trump campaign fired back on Twitter, saying "Joe Biden is expecting people to vote for him without knowing who he’ll put on the Supreme Court. That should scare every single American."
Biden is keeping laser-focused on the pandemic and on an economy that was severely deflated due to the coronavirus, which remain the top issues on the minds of voters, as he makes the case that Trump’s failed the nation in handling the twin crises.
A veteran Democratic consultant who’s close to the Biden campaign told Fox News, “I expect Biden to continue to talk about the battle for the court at key moments, but it has not diverted him from the issues most likely to define the race for most voters.”
The strategist, who asked to remain anonymous to speak more freely, said those issues are “Trump’s failure to contain the coronavirus, who can best rebuild the economy, and Biden’s ability to bring the country together.”
Biden is tailoring his message to constituencies he needs firmly in the Democratic camp – white working-class voters who backed Trump four years ago – and suburban voters who supported Trump in 2016 but bailed on the president in 2018 and helped the Democrats win back the House of Representatives.
One of the reasons Trump narrowly won Wisconsin four years ago is because of voters in places like Manitowoc County, where Biden stopped on Monday. Trump carried 59% of the county’s vote in 2016, up eight points from 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney’s performance four years earlier.
Biden – speaking to workers after touring the Wisconsin Aluminum Foundry in Manitowoc – said, "I want to spend just a few moments talking about those who voted for Donald Trump last time. When I was out here in our administration, you voted for us and then an awful lot of people in this county changed and they voted for Trump last time.”
The former vice president stressed, “I know many of you are frustrated. You’re angry. You believe you weren’t being seen, represented or heard. I get it. It has to change and I promise you this – it will change with me. You will be seen, heard and respected by me.”
Biden once again used a line that he’s recently incorporated into his stump speech, noting that he was recently reminded that if elected, he would be the first president who didn’t go to an Ivy League school in a long time. He emphasized that “it’s about time that a state school president sat in Oval Office, because you know what, if I’m sitting there, you’re going to be sitting there too.”
And painting another contrast, Biden repeated his characterization that Trump’s one of the “guys who think they're better than you. Guys who inherit everything they've ever gotten in their life and squander it. Guys who stretch and squeeze and stiff electricians and plumbers and contractors working on their hotels and casinos and golf courses to put more bucks in their pocket."
While the former vice president is sure to wade into the titanic high court battle again in the six weeks to go until Election Day, for now, he’s sticking to his game plan.