Joe Biden has cleared the low bar of avoiding ‘major gaffes,’ so far

Former Vice President Joe Biden is the only Democrat in the 2020 race who has run for president more than once before. And as he “grows accustomed to the front-runner status he never enjoyed in his two previous White House bids,” Jonathan Martin writes at The New York Times, his campaign is struggling with how best to showcase “Biden’s never-met-a-stranger persona without exposing him to an environment where he may commit a gaffe.”

So far, their effort has been largely successful, Martin argues:

The most notable feature of his campaign may be what hasn’t happened: He has not blurted anything out that delights his rivals, horrifies his aides and reinforces his image as “Uncle Joe,” America’s there-he-goes-again relative who makes you smile and wince in equal measure. It is early yet — which even Mr. Biden’s friends allow as they hold their breath — and precedent offers good reason to question whether his streak of mostly error-free days can last. [The New York Times]

Biden’s staff has minimized the risks by sticking close to him and limiting questions. But so far, Biden is proving to be his best handler, the Times says, showing “uncharacteristic restraint in the face of temptation.”

Biden doesn’t take the bait when supporters insult President Trump, he offers supporters “selfies as often as embraces,” and “when he does hug a supporter, it is usually when he is asked for one or after he asks permission,” the Times reports. “When a woman yelled out, ‘You can hug and kiss me anytime!’ at a rally near Las Vegas last week, Mr. Biden smiled, made the sign of the cross and, after a pause, simply said, ‘That’s nice, thank you very much.'”

This low bar is presumably not why Biden is the clear Democratic front-runner. And not all Biden friends and allies think this restrained Joe is — or even should be — sustainable. You can read more at The New York Times.

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