They may not agree on much, but the hosts of The View, to a person, have always been on Joe Biden’s side.
From the moment he officially announced his presidential bid early last year, the hosts vigorously defended him against allegations of inappropriate touching. Meghan McCain vehemently attacked his accusers of executing a “hatchet job.” Meanwhile, Whoopi Goldberg pushed back against the criticism of his record on race and Joy Behar wondered aloud if Democrats could just “skip the primary” and anoint Biden the nominee.
Goldberg’s first question—“How are you doing?”—had Biden making excuses for his poor performance on the trail from the start.
“I’m doing fine, I’m doing well,” Biden said, a bit unconvincingly. “You know, we had the first two rounds, made up about 2 percent of the public. I'm heading south now where I feel good.” As Behar jumped in with, “and all white people, right?” Biden pointed out that 99 percent of African-American and Latino voters haven’t cast their ballots yet.
The former vice president insisted that he’s still the candidate best suited to “beat Trump,” but hardly showed the type of energy and vigor needed to do so.
At one point, unprompted, he brought up Rush Limbaugh’s recent homophobic comments against his Democratic rival. But what could have been a powerful moment defending Pete Buttigieg turned into an awkward trail-off that went nowhere. “Pete and I are competitors but this guy has honor, he has courage, he's smart as hell,” he said, “and as we used to say in Claymont, Delaware he ain’t a—I won't get into it. I shouldn't say it.”
“We get it, we understand,” Goldberg said as the other co-hosts laughed nervously. Did they really?
Biden seemed dejected as he swerved from downplaying his losses to criticizing Trump, sometimes within the same sentence.
Aside from Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders, the biggest threat to Biden’s candidacy could be Michael Bloomberg, who has the financial resources to take his campaign as far as he wants it to go. Biden said he looked forward to debating Bloomberg on “everything from redlining to stop and frisk,” but when Sunny Hostin teed him up to take down the former New York mayor over his recently unearthed comments about the latter policy, Biden whiffed.
“Well look, um,” Biden said, breaking out into an incongruous laugh.
“Why are you laughing?” Behar asked.
“I’m laughing because, it’s amazing how every single thing I’ve said for the last 40 years has come up and I’ve answered them all,” he replied. “And we’re just now getting to the place where we’re looking at other people’s records.”
But instead of taking on stop-and-frisk policing and Bloomberg directly, Biden took a hard left turn and started talking about gun violence.
“You send your kid to school and you gotta duck and run down the hall zig zag,” he said. “I’ve been there with all those families in Parkland and those families up in Connecticut.”
Next, he pivoted to talk about how “today, on the streets of the United States of America, African-Americans and minorities are being gunned down as if it were a massacre every day. And we’re not talking about it. Nobody talks about it. We’ve got to eliminate assault weapons.”
Sure, it was a valid argument. But if any of that had anything to do with Bloomberg or stop and frisk, Biden failed miserably to make it clear. He was only saved by Goldberg’s abrupt throw to a commercial break.
Things improved mildly when they returned with Biden seeming to gain a bit more confidence and energy as they went along. The crowd seemed to be on his side. He was at his best when McCain brought up her father, who died of the same brain cancer that killed Biden’s son Beau.
Biden ended the appearance with his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, by his side, explaining why he decided to run against Trump in the first place. And why there’s a good chance he could stay in the race longer than some pundits expect him to.
“Beau should be the guy running for president,” he said. “But you know, you can't stand by and let a guy like Trump, who's the antithesis of everything we have stood for in our family and this country, you can't let it happen.” Every morning he said he gets up and hopes that his son is “proud” of him—“because he made me promise we would not walk away, and we're not walking away.”
There is no doubt that Biden is in this campaign for the right reasons. But if this was the best he could do to get his campaign back on track after the dual disasters in Iowa and New Hampshire, it’s hard to see how it’s going to be enough.