Clinton adviser says Biden campaign ‘doing it all wrong’

A longtime senior adviser to former President Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hit the Biden campaign over its strategy in a New York Times op-ed Sunday, arguing the president is siding too much with his base and leaving moderates behind.

Mark Penn, who served as an adviser to the Clintons from 1995 to 2008 and now runs the Harris Poll, said focusing on the left wing of the Democratic Party instead of independent voters could cost him in November.

“If Mr. Biden wants to serve another four years, he has to stop being dragged to the left and chart a different course closer to the center that appeals to those voters who favor bipartisan compromises to our core issues, fiscal discipline and a strong America,” Penn wrote in the op-ed.

Bipartisanship and fiscal responsibility were the core tenets of Clinton’s 1996 reelection campaign, which Penn advised. He said Biden is like a “scared candidate,” convinced to appeal to his left-leaning base to ensure turnout instead of focusing on drawing new voters.

“I believe most of the 101,000 ‘uncommitted’ votes that Mr. Biden lost in Michigan will come home in the end because they have nowhere else to go, and the threat Mr. Trump poses will become clearer and scarier in the next six months,” he wrote, referring to progressive protest votes in state primaries. “But regardless, there’s a much bigger opportunity for Mr. Biden if he looks in the other direction.”

The path to victory, Penn argued, is through former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley’s moderate Republican base. Biden has repeatedly reached out to Haley voters since she dropped out of the GOP primary, attempting to bridge the gap for Republicans turned off by former President Trump.

“These people are in the moderate center, and many of them could be persuaded to vote for Mr. Biden if he fine-tuned his message to bring them in,” he said of Haley voters.

Penn said that Biden should instead reinvent his entire policy platform to more closely match what he believes moderates want by being hard on crime and immigration, doubling down on support for Israel and backing off of key promises toward combating climate change — all recommendations that would align with many conservatives’ preferences.

“The 2024 election is a rematch, but Mr. Biden should not assume that he will get the same result as he did in 2020 in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Georgia and other battleground states by running the same playbook,” he wrote.

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