Obama campaign veterans urge Biden to step up digital game to beat Trump

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Two of the political masterminds behind Barack Obama’s historic 2008 presidential election victory are urging presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and his campaign to beef up their digital game and be more aggressive in taking the fight to President Trump amid the unique 2020 political circumstances transformed by the coronavirus pandemic.

David Axelrod – who was the senior strategist for Obama’s 2008 campaign and 2012 re-election – and 2008 campaign manager David Plouffe also urged the former vice president to prepare for and push back against a full-court press by Trump and his allies to attack and try to discredit Biden. They also suggested the candidate to break out of the “Biden in the basement” setting from his TV studio in the basement of his Delaware home.

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Axelrod and Plouffe, in an opinion piece Monday in the New York Times, argued,  “Joe Biden’s most memorable moments on the campaign trail have come through spontaneous, intensely moving encounters with people who, like Mr. Biden, have endured searing struggle and loss.”

They argue that Biden’s “authentic sense of empathy is a quality uniquely suited to this agonizing moment.” But they lament that the former vice president’s “mired in his basement, speaking to us remotely, like an astronaut beaming back to earth from the International Space Station.”

And they worried that “in the midst of a catastrophic virus and devastating economic coma that command our full attention, Mr. Biden finds himself on the outside looking in.”

Axelrod and Plouffe noted that during the nomination battle, Biden “lagged behind many of his Democratic competitors” in the digital war. And they said that in the general election, Trump’s “massive digital following dwarfs Mr. Biden’s by a factor of 15 to one.”

The two veteran Democratic strategists emphasized that “while television remains a potent force, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok are all essential in a Covid-19 world in which candidate travel and voter contact will be severely limited. In many respects, they are the campaign, not an important part of it.”

And they stressed that “in order to break through and be heard,” Biden will need “to up the tempo of his campaign, fully utilize his army of powerful surrogates and embrace a new suite of virtual, data-driven tools and creative tactics.”

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Axelrod and Plouffe urged Biden and his campaign to step it up on Twitter, saying “the challenger needs to behave more like an insurgent, building the capacity to wield facts, humor and mockery at lightning speed in those surreal moments of opportunity that Mr. Trump regularly provides. (Simple example: a Biden video, fired off in real time: “This is a cup of Lysol. It is poison. Please do not drink it.”)”

The duo also warned that “Mr. Trump’s team knows they can’t win a referendum on his leadership, so they will try to disqualify Mr. Biden.”

And they suggested that “the Biden campaign will need a more robust rapid response operation to monitor and counter Mr. Trump’s attacks and arm his millions of supporters with the material they need to push back.”

Fox News reached out to the Biden campaign for reaction to the opinion piece by Axelrod and Plouffe, but had yet to receive a response.