Biden team seeks to pin ‘basement’ campaign reputation on Trump

President Biden’s re-election campaign has been touting recent swing-state appearances as evidence of his presence on the trail ahead of the general election, while suggesting former President Donald Trump was avoiding the important battlegrounds. 

‘Joe Biden has hit 8 swing states in 18 days, all while being POTUS. Donald Trump has golfed a lot, all while truth-socialing really hard,’ Biden spokesperson James Singer wrote Wednesday on X, alongside a graphic of the core swing states.

‘Campaigning by the numbers: Biden visited 8 battleground states in 18 days. Trump? One. Just one battleground state,’ campaign staffer Daniel Wessel added. 

In a press release last week, the Biden campaign slammed Trump, claiming ‘Broke Don Hides in Basement.’ In 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Biden was notably criticized for campaigning over Zoom webcasts in a temporary basement studio at his home in Delaware. Since then, a candidate who is relatively absent from visibility has been referred to as running a ‘basement’ campaign. 

However, Trump’s campaign pushed back on the claim that he isn’t visible in the critical states, noting he will be in two of them next week. Only one event for next week is advertised on Trump’s campaign website, a rally in Wisconsin set for Tuesday. The other visit remains unannounced. 

Trump’s team further pointed to Biden’s accessibility and frequency of interviews, as well as his tendency not to accept many questions from the press during speeches or events. In the first three months of 2024, Biden has participated in three on-camera interviews — one with late-night host Seth Meyers, one with Robert Costa of CBS and one with MSNBC’s Jonathan Capehart. He did not sit for a Super Bowl interview in February despite the informal establishment of it as something of a tradition for presidents in the 21st century.

In reference to the president’s interview schedule, which also featured several radio and digital hits, spokesperson Andrew Bates said in a statement to Fox News Digital, ‘There are lots of folks who can’t keep up with Joe Biden.’

According to the University of California-Santa Barbara’s American Presidency Project, Biden has fallen behind his predecessors when it comes to transparency and press accessibility. During his first term so far, Biden has given only 33 news conferences, compared to Trump’s 57 at the same point and former President Barack Obama’s 69. 

Whether the Biden team’s recent blitz of battleground visits and its effort to highlight a period with few Trump appearances will convince voters that Trump is missing in action remains to be seen. 

‘I doubt it,’ Republican strategist John Feehery told Fox News Digital.

‘Both are pretty old, but Biden is older and more prone to gaffes,’ he said, noting the campaign will be ‘long.’

Erin Perrine, another Republican strategist, called it ‘laughable’ for Biden to compare ‘campaign styles when Biden hasn’t run an aggressive campaign in well over a decade.’

‘Biden’s campaign seems to lack a serious strategy to address his polling consistently lagging on almost every major issue facing Americans,’ she said.  

According to fellow GOP strategist Doug Heye, the move by the president’s campaign ‘makes sense’ because ‘Biden is trying to project an image that he is healthy and vigorous.’

But he noted President Biden’s packed schedule ‘comes with the very real risk that something goes wrong for Biden.’ 

Trump doesn’t need to work as hard to maintain this image, Heye explained. ‘He’s lost some of his fastball but remains a ball of energy,’ he added. 

Democratic strategist Max Burns felt differently. 

‘In a race that both sides agree will be decided by razor-thin vote margins, it isn’t viable for a candidate to take weeks off the campaign to focus on his personal financial and legal issues,’ Burns said. ‘Trump is spending more and more campaign time at Mar-a-Lago, where he’s holding a nonstop stream of fundraisers to help him pay his enormous civil fraud bond.’

Burns added that he expects Trump to lose polling stature against Biden the longer he remains away from the campaign trail.

Robert Shapiro, a political science professor at Columbia University, described the Biden campaign’s effort as its way of taking ‘on the view that Biden is less energetic and more affected by age than Trump.’ 

‘I do not think this can have any more than a marginal short-term effect now,’ Shapiro said. This sentiment was echoed by Heye, who claimed, ‘None of this matters in March.’ The Nov. 5 general election is more than 222 days away 

While there remains ample time for developments in the election, Shapiro said, ‘It could have a more cumulative effect’ later on. 

What is ‘more important’ for Biden, he said, is his maintained presence in the battleground states and the ability to ‘draw visible comparisons with Trump on all fronts where Trump is vulnerable.’ Trump’s presence or lack thereof ‘is less an issue,’ he added. 

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