President Trump calls his opponent “Sleepy Joe.”
He just might be onto something.
It’s hard to know whether Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is sleeping every day in his basement in Wilmington, Delaware, but one thing is clear: The 77-year-old former vice president is barely visible on the campaign trail.
On Sept. 22, Mr. Biden called a “lid” — which means reporters can go home, he won’t be seen again that day — at 9:22. In the morning. On Sept. 19, he did the same thing — at 8:35 a.m.
“In fact, the lid has come down before noon no less than eight times this month,” the Spectator reported last week. “That would be 36 percent of the campaign days in the month of September in which the Biden campaign has canceled its activities before lunchtime.”
Fox News Channel has also been tracking the former vice president’s barely there schedule.
“Since his Aug. 11 selection of California Sen. Kamala Harris as his running mate, Biden has had 22 days where he either didn’t make public appearances, held only virtual fundraisers or ventured from his Delaware home solely for church, according to an Associated Press analysis of his schedules,” Fox reported Saturday. “He made 12 visits outside of Delaware during that period, including a trip to Washington scheduled for Friday to pay respects to the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.”
Of course he wouldn’t miss that one — a chance to politicize the death of a U.S. Supreme Court justice.
Then on Monday, Mr. Biden got out of bed, had a couple Metamucil wafers — and then called a lid at 9:52 a.m.
During that same time period, Mr. Trump had 24 trips that took him to 17 different states, as well as a visit to New York to see his ailing brother in the hospital or weekend golf outings.
Last Friday, for instance, Mr. Trump held meetings in the White House, then headed to Florida, where he held a Latinos for Trump Roundtable in Doral. He did another event there, then flew to Atlanta, where he delivered remarks on Black economic empowerment. He headed back to Washington, D.C., participated in a roundtable with supporters at his Trump International Hotel Washington, D.C., then jumped back on Air Force One and zipped down to Newport News, Virginia, where he delivered remarks at a “Make America Great Again” event.
He didn’t get back to the White House until nearly midnight. Mr. Biden was no doubt sawing lumber by then.
The Biden team says the Democrat has been busy prepping for the first presidential debate, but that’s not much of an excuse. Prep work hasn’t kept Mr. Trump off the campaign trail — and remember, he’s also busy running the United States. Plus, there’s just over 30 days left — we’re already in the home stretch.
There are a few theories on why Mr. Biden is hardly visible, but two stand out. One, he’s a non-stop gaffe machine. On Sept. 20 — one day after his 8:35 a.m. lid — Mr. Biden said: “If Donald Trump has his way, the complications from COVID-19, which are well beyond what they should be — it’s estimated that 200 million people have died — probably by the time I finish this talk.”
Uh, there are about 328 million Americans, which would mean more than two-thirds of the U.S. population had perished. Fake news (or really, just another major gaffe from a guy who wants to be president).
Back in June, Mr. Biden screwed-up again, saying 120 million people had died as a result of COVID-19 during a campaign stop in Pennsylvania.
So there’s that reason: Mr. Biden can’t misspeak if he never says anything.
But there’s one other major factor: Mr. Biden leads in the polls — in some surveys, by a lot. His handlers apparently think that he can win simply by not being Mr. Trump, and they clearly don’t want to take too many chances.
Biden aides say the candidate is merely respecting public health guidelines that call for limited gatherings of people and social distancing, but even members of his own party say that is a “pretty lame excuse.”
“I thought he had his own plane,” Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa said this week on Fox News. “He doesn’t have to sit with one space between another person on a commercial airline like I would.”
Said Biden spokesman T.J. Ducklo, “We are campaigning safely and effectively, and our message is reaching voters in battleground states and generating the enthusiasm and energy we need to beat Donald Trump.”
Don’t look for a big push from Mr. Biden up to Nov. 3. The 77-year-old won’t be doing much. It’s a risky strategy, laying low as your opponent crisscrosses the country holding mega-rallies.
But that’s all the Democrats have — Sleepy Joe. Maybe if he wins the election, he’ll be fully rested and ready to go.
• Joseph Curl covered the White House and politics for a decade for The Washington Times. He can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @josephcurl.