ANALYSIS: In the aftermath of an embarrassing fifth place finish in New Hampshire—a finish he saw coming early enough to allow a quick exit to South Carolina—former Vice President “Shotgun Joe” Biden is telling supporters, “It ain’t over, man. We’re just getting started.”
The fumbling former veep picked up the not-so-affectionate nickname for his remarks during a 2013 YouTube interview during which he responded to a young woman’s question about buying a firearm for home protection. The answer was so outrageous that gun law experts from across the landscape warned that what he advised—firing two blasts from a double-barrel shotgun outside to frighten away burglars—was a serious crime in many jurisdictions. One man in Southwest Washington actually tried the “Biden defense” in court a couple of years later when he was prosecuted for illegal discharge of a firearm to scare off some car prowlers.
Biden’s bid for the White House appears to be going down faster than the Titanic. His efforts to distance himself from the failed impeachment of President Donald Trump, which raised questions about his son, Hunter’s business dealings in the Ukraine, probably had much to do with Biden’s sinking ratings.
And, his message simply isn’t resonating. Democrats are “sad,” according to CNN analyst Van Jones.
Biden’s anti-gun baggage isn’t helping, either. Touting that he’s the only candidate who defeated the National Rifle Association and his leading role in passing the Brady gun control law almost 30 years ago does not play well with American gun owners.
So, if Biden is “just getting started” in his presidential campaign, he’d better fuel up with high octane.
Super Tuesday is on the horizon, and with momentum from the Iowa caucus debacle and his win in New Hampshire, Sen. Bernie Sanders is leaving Biden in the political dust. In the process, Sanders is dragging the Democrat party increasingly to the left, a place where the more traditional Biden isn’t just out of place, he may be unwelcome.
South Carolina is “gun country,” too, so Biden needs to watch his words if he expects to regain traction with voters. Biden needs to remember what happened when former rival Beto O’Rourke got way too candid during a debate in Houston by blurting, “Hell, yes, we’re going to take your AR15, your AK47.” It got a big cheer from the audience, but O’Rourke’s campaign crashed and burned shortly thereafter, leaving Democrats scrambling to sweep his confiscation comment under the nearest rug.
With Sanders and former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg leading the shrinking pack, and anti-gun billionaire Michael Bloomberg warming up on the sidelines, Democrats have painted themselves into a corner. They can’t campaign on the economy, because Trump’s policies have put millions of Americans back to work, with jobs that Biden’s former boss, Barack Obama, said would not be coming back.
Where Biden can draw maybe a few hundred followers to a campaign rally, Trump draws thousands of people to his events, with more standing outside.
It may be time for “Shotgun Joe” to hang it up. He jumped into the campaign last year with guns a-blazing, but it has become alarmingly obvious he’s been firing blanks.