Joe Biden made his bid for the Democratic nomination almost exclusively about running against President Donald Trump. But after a bruising at the hands of Kamala Harris, he’s confronting the reality that there’s a long fight ahead to become the party’s nominee.
The former vice president’s perch at the top of polls was shaken by Harris, the first-term senator from California, who confronted him at the first Democratic debate about past statements on school desegregation. That put the front-runner on the defensive and opened door for some of his party rivals to take aim at his vulnerabilities and his record, even as he tries to keep his focus on Trump.
“It was always hubris to think you could ignore a field that includes this kind of progressive talent, not to mention the historic and unprecedented diversity,” said Jess McIntosh, a Democratic consultant and former aide to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign who’s not affiliated with any of the current candidates.
Biden’s campaign team is reminding allies that there are many more debates ahead, and that he has plenty of time to deliver in the seven months before the Iowa caucus. Still, some supporters are uneasy.
One dedicated donor, who asked not to be identified, said that while Biden remains the candidate best suited to take on Trump, he didn’t have a great debate performance and should have been prepared to face more questions about statements made and positions taken during decades in the public eye.