On the Use of Surrogates

As the renowned British philosopher, Richard Starkey, once observed:  One gets by with a little help from one’s friends.  An American presidential election takes place on many separate battlegrounds featuring different terrains, for which there are different objectives calling for different troop deployments.   The greater an army’s troop and financial strength and the more effectively it applies its resources, generally the better it will fare.

President Trump is currently in the midst of a bunch of campaign stops.  Put aside for a moment the COVID risks his stops may engender; even put aside that his forays are in large part to indulge an ego that Mr. Trump’s niece, Clinical Psychologist Mary Trump, called in Too Much and Never Enough, “a fragile thing that must be bolstered every moment.”  The stark political reality is:  he has no choice.  He must carry the load.  He has no credible surrogates.  He is the Trump Show.  Only insomniacs can have any interest in His Somnolency, Vice President Mike Pence; only maniacs can be interested in Donald Trump, Jr.  To compound the President’s difficulties, current reports indicate that his campaign is now a bit strapped for funds.       

On the other hand, by all accounts former Vice President Joe Biden has a lot of friends (in this contest, some unexpected).  Mr. Biden’s campaign is reportedly well funded.  If the Biden Campaign is undertaking many of the efforts set forth below, I apologize for failing to have noted them; but this race is not over.  Even given its need to maintain a “COVID-safe” posture with the electorate, I would submit that in the campaign’s final weeks, it’s time for a full court blitz.  The Biden Campaign should aggressively use its surfeit of potential surrogates.  Saving Mr. Biden himself for toward the end of this note:       

Democratic Vice Presidential nominee Kamala Harris:  When she is not engaged in the Senate Confirmation hearings for Judge Amy Coney Barrett, she should be living in the Hispanic areas of Arizona and Florida to bolster Mr. Biden’s relatively weaker support in Brown communities and regularly visiting the cities of Detroit, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Milwaukee to encourage Democratic minority support.

Dr. Jill Biden:  I’ve found her impressive, and would have her appearing in the more conservative swing state suburban communities, as much to dissuade suburban Republican women from voting for Mr. Trump as to gain voters for her husband.

Former First Lady Michelle Obama:  given Ms. Obama’s popularity, to the extent she is willing to engage, having her mine swing state cities and their suburbs would be a HUGE plus for the Biden Campaign.

Territorially effective:  Ms. Cindy McCain, widow of U.S. AZ Sen. John McCain:  The Bidens and McCains were close friends for decades.  Ms. McCain’s endorsement of Mr. Biden and her accompanying Ms. Biden on stops to undercut the President’s Arizona Republican support is, in my view, very wise.

Michael Bloomberg:  Devoting millions to the Biden Campaign in strategic locations.  (This also appears to be happening.)

U.S. MN Sen. Amy Klobuchar:  when not tied up in Judge Barrett’s confirmation hearings, Sen. Klobuchar should be stumping for Mr. Biden to hold Minnesota, and – given her Midwest credibility stemming from her presidential campaign – in the non-urban parts of Wisconsin and Iowa.

Former OH Gov. John Kasich:  I suspect Mr. Biden’s current unexpectedly strong Ohio poll showing is partly attributable to Mr. Kasich’s efforts.

The “Big Guns”:

Former President Barack Obama:  to the extent he is willing, put him on the road in the cities of Detroit, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Milwaukee.  Put him in southern Florida, the area of his primary support in a state he won twice.  Put him in Charlotte, North Carolina, a state he won in 2008.  He alone can lecture minority communities:  “I told you elections matter.  You didn’t think it mattered, you didn’t come out for Hillary, and look what happened.  Get out and vote.”    

Mr. Biden:  He himself is doing much of what I would suggest:  campaigning in the areas of Mr. Trump’s strength.  Hit western Pennsylvania.  Hit central and northern Wisconsin.  Hit the upper reaches of Michigan.  Hit the retirement communities in Arizona and Florida (pledge loudly and repeatedly to protect Social Security and Medicare).  His mission in these areas is to persuade those that are distrustful of progressives but repulsed by Mr. Trump’s antics that he is sound and moderate.  He’ll gain some votes, but if he provides sufficient reassurance to wavering Trump supporters to quell Mr. Trump’s turnout, he wins.

Finally, the most territorially tactical, but potentially the most telling.  Former President Bill Clinton and the Bush Family are close; at his father’s funeral, former President George W. Bush referred to Mr. Clinton as, “my brother by another mother.”  At the same time, as John Bolton noted in The Room Where It Happened that Mr. Trump “despise[s] both Bush Presidents,” it is obvious that the Bush Family despises Mr. Trump.  I would have Mr. Clinton call Mr. Bush and encourage him to declare, as Texas voting is now underway: 

“During my administration, I asked our people to give their lives in America’s cause.  The least I owe them is to tell them directly what I think is best for our nation.  I consider the way that President Trump has conducted himself in office to be a greater danger to America than terrorism.  I have honest disagreements with Joe Biden on many issues, but he is an honorable man who wants what’s best for our nation.  Texans love our country.  As an American and a Texan, I intend to split my ballot by voting for Joe Biden for President while also voting for my friend, Republican John Cornyn, for the Senate.”

While such an endorsement by Mr. Bush might carry some weight in certain swing state Republican suburbs across the nation, it might tip Texas, where polls currently show Messrs. Trump and Biden in a statistical tie.  Given Texas’ 38 Electoral College votes, a Biden victory in Texas … would be the coup de grace.

Hit ‘em from every angle.  This race is not over.

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