PBS Rejoicing: Biden ‘Came Out Swinging’ Against GOP’s ‘False Advertising’ on Age

The tax-funded PBS weekly political roundtable Washington Week with The Atlantic continued to provide support for the Democratic candidate during the runup to the November election, tempting fate and more after-the-fact embarrassment by again defending Joe Biden’s mental acuity and vigor, even attacking Special Counsel Robert Hur’s report again.

Host and Atlantic editor Jeffrey Goldberg was joined by his Atlantic colleagues Adam Harris and Mark Leibovich, along with CNN senior political analyst Nia Malika Henderson and Reuters White House correspondent Jeff Mason.

Jeffrey Goldberg: Let’s go to the finances, and Jeff, you have been traveling all week with Joe Biden. He’s — you just got here, actually, from endless flying around the country with Joe Biden. He’s doing very well in the fundraising. And it’s a superficial contrast, but $26 million and Radio City Music Hall with Presidents Obama and Clinton versus selling sneakers and the Bible. Is Trump in trouble on the fundraising compared to Joe Biden?

No more liberal media qualms about bigtime fundraising or calls for campaign finance reform (remember campaign finance reform?)

Jeff Mason was perhaps most enthusiastic for Biden, rejecting host Goldberg’s relatively hesitant take on Biden’s new vigor.

Jeff Mason: Well, [Trump]’s certainly struggling compared to Joe Biden when it comes to fundraising, and it is a measure of your campaign`s health. And I think that sign of fundraising strength was something that Obama wanted to help Biden with and Clinton wanted to help Biden with. But, in general, the Biden campaign wanted to say, we have enthusiasm and look, here it is in the numbers. And President Biden is saying a lot in some of his fundraisers now that he’s seeing a turn in polling. He walks out and says, I feel the enthusiasm, and this is Exhibit A. The enthusiasm is manifesting and having a pretty strong set of numbers.

Goldberg: It’s a little bit too early to talk about a turn in polling, no?

Mason: Well, I mean, it`s post-State of the Union, right? So, the State of the Union — I think the campaign will probably go back and look at his fiery State of the Union Address as being a turning point. And we’ll see how long that lasts.

Goldberg: Fiery as a relative concept.

Mason: Yes, but robust, right? I mean, he came out swinging, and it came after a period of time when he had been taking a lot of hits for his age. The special counsel report came out, and he, I think, tried to put some of that to bed with that speech. And he`s seeing, at least the way they describe it, an enthusiasm-sort-of-upturn as a result.

Nia-Malika Henderson saw “a bit of momentum in some of these swing states, particularly Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.”

Or, perhaps not? The New York Times political analyst Nate Cohn summarized recent polling data under the subhead “No shift after State of the Union.”

After Mark Leibovich and his colleague Goldberg mocked Dean Phillips, Biden’s would-be Democratic primary rival, and suggested he wasn’t worthy of news coverage, Goldberg switched to defending Biden.

Goldberg: …And then he comes out at the State of the Union and is peppy.

Mason: And in addition to that State of the Union, there was also the transcript of the interview with the special counsel, which turned out not to be as damning in terms of his memory as the report suggested that it was. And so I think there`s that and there’s the perhaps false advertising that you’re referring to by some Republicans that is just not entirely bearing out. That doesn`t mean age isn`t still going to be a weakness for President Biden….

Goldberg: So, you’ve been following him all week on the trail. Give us your firsthand impressions of his energy level, cogency, enthusiasm.

Mason went on an extended gush (click “Expand.”)

Mason: Enthusiasm, very high, energy, very high, cogency, pretty good. I mean, he’s — the truth is Joe Biden has good days and bad days. We all do, right? But his — at his fundraisers, he’s trying out some new lines. One of the recent ones that I was at, one of his aides came up to me and a couple other traveling reporters right before he started speaking and said, pay attention. He’s got a new riff tonight. And his new riff, ladies and gentlemen at the table, was to talk about President Trump saying, are you better off than you were four years ago? And Biden says, “I’m glad you asked that, man,” and then starts going into a comparison of how things are now compared to March of 2020, when COVID was in full swing and hospitals were struggling and the economy was cratering. So, that was the new riff, but it is sort of a sign that they’re pumping up his campaign speeches. And he seems energetic and he seems enthused.

This segment was brought to you in part by CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER.

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