Joe Biden formally clinched the Democratic nomination on Friday — though he’s been the presumed Democratic nominee since April, when Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders dropped out of the primary — and will now turn his attention to mapping out a winning strategy in an election upended by three crises: the coronavirus pandemic, economic collapse and unrest sweeping the country over the death of George Floyd.
Biden surpassed the winning delegate threshold, 1,991, on Friday night after a primary victory in Guam and votes were tallied from primaries in seven states and Washington, D.C. that held elections on Tuesday.
“It was an honor to compete alongside one of the most talented groups of candidates the Democratic party has ever fielded,” Biden said in a statement Friday night, “and I am proud to say that we are going into this general election a united party.”
Still, a “united party” is far from given and the former vice president will now be tasked with navigating difficult election terrain, as voter priorities appear radically different than just a few months ago, before the pandemic began.
Biden and Sanders have formed “unity task forces” dedicated to shoring up party unity and his campaign team has quietly been planning a more radical agenda for the former vice president, the Washington Post reports, that
The switch represents a remarkable shift in strategy for Biden, who for months positioned himself as a pragmatist and now sees former President Franklin D. Roosevelt as a role model for our current crisis.
For now, Biden’s swing to the left is largely rhetorical, though the former vice president has spoken about proposals such as having the federal government pay half the salaries of employees at struggling businesses to avoid mass layoffs during the pandemic, invoking wartime power to force banks to offer loans to struggling businesses, and creating a massive new health-care workforce to combat the virus.
Biden’s change in tone was evident in his campaign statement last night, when he implored people to join a “movement” that will “transform our nation.”
“Today, I’m once again asking every American who feels knocked down, counted out, and left behind, to join our campaign,” Biden said in the statement. “Because we aren’t just building the movement that will defeat Donald Trump, we are building the movement that will transform our nation.”
Biden has stepped out into the public eye in the past week or so in the wake of Floyd’s death, after weeks of largely conducting his campaign from his house in Delaware due to the pandemic. He is slated to attend Floyd’s memorial service in Houston on Monday.
What to watch for
Fundraising. As Biden turns his attention to the general election and defeating Trump in November, he faces a steep climb to match Trump’s fundraising totals. At the end of April, the Trump campaign said it and other fundraising groups had $255 million in cash on hand, while Biden and the DNC had about $97.5 million.
Biden formally clinches Democratic presidential nomination (Associated Press)