After Joe Biden secured the Democratic presidential nomination, there was a lot of talk about how he was going to campaign differently than Hillary Clinton, especially in Pennsylvania.
Pundits faulted Clinton for campaigning too much in the Democratic strongholds of Pittsburgh and Philadelphia and ignoring the rest of the state, particularly former mill towns and coal-mining areas, which Democrats used to dominate.
Clinton’s strategy was an abject failure as she lost Pennsylvania to Donald Trump, paving the way for him to win the general election.
So how’s Biden’s strategy going? To the surprise of almost no one, his first campaign appearance in western Pennsylvania was in Pittsburgh. He’s going to need to branch out if he hopes to capture the state.
Biden may not be able to win western Pennsylvania, but he has to come close enough so he’ll be able to withstand Trump’s considerable margins in the northeastern and central parts of the state.
And to do that, Biden will also have to fine-tune his message. He can’t continue to attack Trump’s character endlessly. That might endear him to his base, but that will do nothing to help him win former Democrats and moderate Republicans.
He has to speak to them in concrete terms. It’s not enough for him to speak out against violence in racial protests. He has to speak out about how he’ll prevent the looters and criminals from taking over peaceful demonstrations, and detail the punishment he plans to dole out to them.
Biden also has to address business owners who’ve seen their stores and buildings destroyed by unruly mobs. He must spell out how he’s going to help them with programs, not just platitudes.
FROM AN EDITORIAL IN THE PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE