Former Vice President Joe Biden delivered a major campaign speech in which he denounced Republican racism... but his campaign is also grappling with the popularity of a parody website mocking his past handsiness.
"You’ve got Jim Crow sneaking back in. You know what happens when you have an equal right to vote? They lose." Biden told an audience at the first South Carolina stop of his presidential campaign, according to the Associated Press. His comment was made in regard to Republican efforts to implement restrictive voting laws that critics such as Biden have characterized as racist.
Biden also played on South Carolina's state motto in order to make a larger point about Trump.
"Your state motto is, ‘While I breathe, I hope.' It’s not a joke. We’re breathing, but God, we have got to have hope," Biden told the crowd.
After describing how Trump is going to continue to attack both Biden and Biden's family, the former vice president said that there "are so many nicknames I want to give this guy" and, after joking that he would "start with clown," insisted that he didn't want to sink to Trump's level.
"The only place he has any confidence is in the mud," Biden told the South Carolina audience, adding that Trump "doesn’t understand how to respond to issues."
Biden's reference to Trump's confidence was likely a swipe at the president's recent fixation with the former vice president, one that was reflected in his posting 60 anti-Biden tweets last week. The seeming obsession with Biden suggests that Trump may be worried about Biden as a potentially strong general election opponent in 2020.
Despite Biden's performance in South Carolina — which was given a strong headwind due to a polling bounce that followed his campaign announcement, although Bloomberg's Jonathan Bernstein cautioned that such bounces often don't last — the former vice president is facing some unflattering news coverage over the success of a parody website mocking his past handsiness toward women.
"Uncle Joe is back and ready to take a hands-on approach to America’s problems!" says the website Joebiden.info. "Joe Biden has a good feel for the American people and knows exactly what they really want deep down. He’s happy to open up and reveal himself to voters and will give a pounding to anybody who gets in his way!"
The website contains pictures of Biden touching women and children in ways that seem to make them uncomfortable, reinforcing the criticism that Biden's past touchy-feely ways were inappropriate. The former vice president has not been accused of sexual misconduct.
"Users are reporting that the former vice president’s official 2020 campaign page is nowhere to be found on the first page of results for the search term 'Joe Biden,'" CNBC reported about the Biden website fiasco.
It later added, "While his official campaign page is absent, Google does prominently display an official Biden advertisement for Biden-related searches."
"Meanwhile, JoeBiden.org links to a White House page titled 'Trump Administration Accomplishments.'"
Biden's candidacy has faced other criticisms, including his past conservative positions on issues like tax cuts and deregulation, his opposition to school busing as a way of desegregating schools and his support of President Bill Clinton's now-vilified 1993 crime bill. Because most of those positions were taken in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, Biden could make the case that his thinking has evolved since that era in his political career. His challenge will be doing so in a way that appeals to the Democratic Party's liberal base without alienating the moderates he'll need to win over during the general election.