Clinton adviser warns Biden needs to ‘do more’ than focus on Trump in 2024

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An adviser to former President Clinton warned Sunday that President Biden must broaden his appeal to 2024 voters instead of just focusing on attacks against former President Trump if he wants to be reelected.

Doug Sosnik, a senior adviser to Clinton, compared the 2024 election to 1980 in a New York Times op-ed, with Biden being former President Carter and Trump former President Ronald Reagan. Sosnik pointed out that both Carter and Biden had trouble winning over voters, and warned that Biden may need to switch strategies to win.

Biden has spent much of his 2024 reelection campaign focused on Trump, specifically his role in the Jan. 6 Capitol riots, warning that reelecting Trump is a danger to democracy. But Sosnik is skeptical that the strategy is enough.

“Mr. Biden is no doubt counting on those vulnerabilities to hurt Mr. Trump. But Mr. Biden also needs to do more,” he wrote. “One of the lessons from the 1980 presidential campaign is that dissatisfaction with one candidate isn’t enough to seal his fate if the opponent can’t meet voters’ threshold for acceptability.”

“To get re-elected, Mr. Biden needs to clear the same threshold that Mr. Reagan did,” he continued.

Reagan defeated a struggling Carter with promises for a new direction and charisma, brushing off concerns over his age that Biden is also now facing. Sosnik wrote that Biden must also embrace aspects of Reagan’s campaign, building a positive picture that voters can be attracted to in addition to attacks on Trump.

“At this point Mr. Biden’s biggest challenge is not Mr. Trump but himself. Can he convince the voters, as Mr. Reagan did, that he is up to the job of being president at an age when most people have retired?” Sosnik wrote.

Biden’s age has been front and center in his campaign, with an overwhelming majority of voters saying he is too old and a series of gaffes raising concerns. Reagan faced similar questions, especially during his landslide 1984 reelection.

Reagan announced that he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease six years after he left office in 1994, but concerns over his mental acuity swirled throughout his presidency, especially its waning years.

“In 1980, voters held on to doubts about Mr. Reagan’s age and temperament through much of the race, but given their concerns about Mr. Carter, they continued to lower the bar on what they needed to see from Mr. Reagan to earn their support,” Sosnik wrote.

He pointed to the Oct. 28, 1980, debate between Carter and Reagan as the turning point for the election. Reagan was able to prove that he is up to the task of the presidency at his age and “seal the deal.”

“Mr. Biden has a similar task ahead of him,” Sosnik wrote. “Like Mr. Reagan, the president must overcome deep doubts about his age and his ability to put the country back on track over the next four years.”

In order to find success, Biden “should emphasize that age alone is not what counts; it’s the wisdom of his ideas,” Sosnik wrote, attacking the age criticism head-on instead of brushing it off.

“And contrast his forward-looking views on climate change, abortion rights and reasonable gun control with Mr. Trump’s backward views on these issues,” he added.

“Voters will be given daily reminders for the next nine months of how chaotic the next four years will be if Mr. Trump is elected,” Sosnik wrote. “In the end, it will be up to Mr. Biden to convince enough voters that he is up to the presidency into his mid-80s. If he is not able to do that, it doesn’t really matter how the country feels about Mr. Trump.”

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