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Yahoo News Editor-in-Chief Dan Klaidman discusses Joe Biden's 2020 campaign

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Yahoo News Editor-in-Chief Dan Klaidman joins Yahoo Finance's Democratic National Convention coverage to break down Joe Biden's campaign strategy as well as the top issues voters are concerned about.

Video Transcript

ANDY SERWER: All right, let's go over to Danny Klaidman. Danny, your poll's out today also. What did you find in your results?

DAN KLAIDMAN: Well, not dissimilar to what Rick just said. The-- in the-- the head-to-head number between Biden and Trump is Biden leads by 11 points, 49 to 38. That is the widest margin since we've been polling for more than a year now. And he is-- Trump is being hurt by all of these underlying issues. The economy-- not as badly on the economy, but it's not-- certainly not helping him. But-- but really coronavirus. That is, I think, the central issue here. He is doing worse on coronavirus than he has since we began polling on coronavirus in April. 59% of Americans say they do not approve of his handling of the virus.

He's not doing well on some recent controversies. The US Postal Service issue is hurting him. More Americans believe that voters will be disenfranchised-- or more concerned that voters will be disenfranchised than they are concerned about fraud.

And here's the important point. independent voters and non-leaning independent voters-- that is to say, people who have-- who are not leaning toward either Joe Biden or Donald Trump-- are very unhappy with the way he's handled this Postal Service issue and the issue of potential voter suppression. That does not bode well for him.

ANDY SERWER: Hey Dan, also you've known Joe Biden over the years. And I wanted to ask you about your relationship with him.

DAN KLAIDMAN: I have. You know, a lot of reporters have known Joe Biden over the years, partly because of his longevity, and partly because he's a garrulous schmoozer who likes reporters.

I first met him when I was covering the Senate Judiciary Committee in the late '80s, the early '90s. He was famously chairman of that committee for a long time, presided over the Bork confirmation hearing at the same time as he was running for president the first time, in 1988.

But I then got a chance-- one of the sort of more interesting trips I've taken with a politician was in 2005, when there was a kind of detente between the United States and Libya. And he invited me along on his trip to Libya to meet with Muammar Gadhafi. And it was just me and a few of his aides on his Gulfstream V.

And that's when I really sort of got the Biden treatment. I think it was about a 4 and 1/2 hour dinner, just me and Joe Biden. And you know, he is a incredibly compelling guy in person.

And it was when I first understood-- there's a famous book about the 1988 campaign by Richard Ben Cramer, called "What it Takes." Joe Biden is one of the characters. That was his ill-fated 1988 campaign, when he had been accused of plagiarism and had to drop out.

Richard Ben Cramer, when he talked about Biden, he talked about "the connect." And that was Biden's ability to connect with people. Mostly he was talking about voters.

In this case, he was-- he was using all of his charm. I'm the one reporter who was on the plane with him. And it was really quite something. And you really got a sense of his ability to connect with-- with voters and with really anyone who's-- who is around him when he wants to do it. So it was eye-opening.

RICK NEWMAN: Hey, Dan. Biden is in a pretty good spot right now. What can he do to blow it?

DAN KLAIDMAN: You know, I'm not sure there's a whole lot Biden can do to blow it. I think it's more likely that it would be exogenous effects outside of his control that could have an impact on Biden. And the reason I say that Joe Biden is famously known as a gaffe machine. And he's made multiple gaffes during this election campaign, including on, you know, the third-rail issue of race. But he seems to be kind of Teflon in the sense that I think people know that about him, and they've kind of accounted for it. It's baked in.

And so I'm not sure that too many things that he could-- he could say that would get him in real trouble. I'll tell you one thing that would be problematic is-- is his health. You know, he's 77 years old. And-- and you know, if there is a real question about his health-- let's say he were to contract the coronavirus-- I think that could be devastating.

But beyond that, I really don't think there are too many things that he could do that-- that really would be problematic at this point. I just think he's-- you know, I'm not sure he's-- he's in-- in the catbird seat right now, but he's in a commanding position right now.

You just-- you think back to 2016. At this time, when Hillary Clinton was heading into the conventions, she had an average of less than 3%, you know, ahead of Donald Trump. You know, we've got him 11-- 11%. There are a lot of polls that have him 9%, 10%.

So-- and one last thing on this, which is that people often talk about Michael Dukakis coming out of the Democratic campaign in 1980-- 1988, with that huge 19 or 20-point margin that just kind of evaporated. This is a different political era. You know, we are-- we have sorted ourselves into such highly-polarized tribes that those kinds of fluctuations just don't happen anymore.

So it's not over. The Democrats and Joe Biden certainly shouldn't consider this a cakewalk, because a lot of things can happen. But I think he's in a pretty good position.

ANDY SERWER: OK, Dan Klaidman, editor-in-chief of Yahoo News. Thank you so much for joining us.

DAN KLAIDMAN: Thanks for having me.

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