- Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden has made several policy reversals since launching his 2020 campaign, breaking with positions he has held for decades in some cases.
- Biden has also attempted to establish himself as a moderate candidate with an appetite for bipartisanship that could return Washington to a bygone era of cooperation.
- Other Democratic presidential candidates have leveled shots at Biden for bucking liberal litmus tests.
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Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden is making a habit of reversing stances on key policy areas – even positions he has held for decades – since the launch of his presidential campaign in April.
Biden has repeatedly come under fire from fellow Democratic presidential candidates attempting to appeal to the party’s base. Because Biden is bucking litmus tests and trying to establish himself as the moderate choice for Democrats, he is inviting criticism from a voter base that is often times vicious against those who break with party orthodoxy.
During a speech in Iowa Tuesday where he primarily focused on President Donald Trump, Biden declared China a major threat to the United States.
“We are in a competition with China. We need to get tough with China,” he said. “They are a serious challenge to us, and in some areas a real threat. And every single step that Donald Trump is taking is only exacerbating the challenge.”
“While Trump is tweeting, China is making massive investments in technologies of the future. While Trump is name-calling, China is building roads, bridges, and high-speed rail. While Trump is pursuing a damaging and erratic trade war, without any real strategy, China is positioning itself to lead the world in renewable energy. While Trump is attacking our friends, China is pressing its advantage all over the world,” Biden added. “So you bet I’m worried about China – if we keep following Trump’s path.”
That was a stark contrast from what Biden said in early May, where he downplayed China’s strength and dismissed the rising global power as not something to be concerned about.
“China is going to eat our lunch? Come on, man,” he said. “They can’t even figure out how to deal with the fact that they have this great division between the China Sea and the mountains in the east – I mean the west.”
“They can’t figure out how they’re going to deal with the corruption that exists within the system,” he added. “They’re not bad folks, folks. But guess what? They’re not competition for us.”
Biden reversed a key policy position he held for several decades after pressure from Democrats
Last week, Biden reversed his opposition to repealing the Hyde Amendment after many of the two dozen Democrats running for president piled on the attacks.
In addition to being hammered by the Democratic candidates looking to oust Biden from the top spot in the 2020 field, the former Delaware senator reversed his position after being confronted by Symone Sanders, a former Bernie Sanders spokeswoman and cable news pundit now advising his campaign.
According to The Atlantic, Biden also took advice from Alyssa Milano, a liberal activist and actress from popular television shows like “Who’s the Boss?” and “Charmed.”
Biden had been a staunch supporter of maintaining the Hyde Amendment for decades, both in his capacity as a senator and as vice president. But it took a cable news pundit, an actress, and the threat of alienating himself in the Democratic primary to force a complete reversal.
The move could end up helping Biden, as recent polling suggests Biden switched to a more favourable stance among Democratic primary voters.
But it also showed a genuine lack of sincerity on a key policy issue, according to top strategists.
“So that was a flip, flop, flip, which is never a good thing in politics and it raises questions about his own performance and his own steadiness and his campaign’s performance,” said David Axelrod, a chief strategist on Barack Obama’s historic presidential campaigns. “So this was not a good – you know, beyond the issue itself, this was not a reassuring episode for the Biden campaign.”
Washington Post Columnist Richard Cohen wrote that Biden “has revived memories of politicians past who did a neat about-face on a matter of principle.”
“This will be an arduous and painful campaign for Biden if he is willing to betray his beliefs,” Cohen added. “Soon enough, it will be bitterly cold in Iowa – and he will be ideologically naked to the world, not the man he used to be and not, either, the man he wants to be.”
The constant changing of policy from Biden also opens himself up to more attacks, especially from Democrats who all gunning for the nomination. The first primary debates, which are slated to take place later this month, are usually where the gloves come off – and where Biden will be the main target.
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