The Trump 2020 Campaign has a big marketing problem, that Joe Biden is not Hillary Clinton.
“Lock her up” seemed to be the slogan and chant that then candidate President Donald Trump bestilled on his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton. It became synonymous with him and his supporters and is still referenced today. From a marketing perspective, this was a dream. A quick, and snappy catchphrase that would stick to Clinton like clue and burrow into the heads of voters as they headed into the polls. Even if they didn’t actually understand exactly why President Trump felt Clinton should be in prison it still planted a seed of doubt into undecided voters heads.
Countless theories have stated that Trump’s rhetoric of often false and baseless accusations against Clinton won him the Presidency. The problem this time around? Nothing is sticking to Biden quite as well as Clinton.
This time around the main focus is squarely on Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden. However Hunter Biden is relatively unknown. Hunter (born Robert Hunter Biden) was born in Wilmington, Delaware to Joe and his first wife Neilia Hunter, who died alongside Hunter’s younger sister in a car accident in 1972. Hunter, alongside his older brother Beau (born Joseph Robinette “Beau” Biden III), were both seriously injured in the accident. Hunter pursued a law career, graduating in 1996 and later took a position at MBNA America, a major bank holding company who was also a major contributor to his father’s political campaigns. Within two years, Hunter became their executive vice president, before leaving law to become a lobbyist and later investment advisor.
According to a New York Post report this week, Hunter Biden allegedly helped arrange a meeting between Joe Biden and an executive at a Ukrainian energy company Burisma in April 2015. The story, which contained hacked materials and personal email addresses, was initially banned on Twitter which prevented people from posting links to the article, sending it via direct message and retweeting it. Many journalists (including The Post’s own, doubted the sources and the accuracy of the story.)
This story was set to be the October surprise (that didn’t involve coronavirus), that the Trump campaign would be grateful for. However, ‘her emails’ it was not. Why? Because Hunter Biden is not Hillary Clinton, who’s emails and background as Secretary of State was a target for the Trump campaign and his supporters in 2015/16.
Clinton was often seen as a figure of mystery and suspicion in the USA before and during her run for President, she herself along with her family have been the subject to vast, false and downright strange conspiracy theories that are still widely shared amongst Trump’s supporters. Even now, four years after her defeat in the election, tweets and Facebook statuses are shared claiming she’s due to be prosecuted or that she’s been arrested (or that she’s currently right this second in court) for crimes related to a child sex trafficking ring, something that easily is debunked using a quick internet search or common sense/logic. If the wife of a previous President of the United States, a former First Lady, New York senator and Secretary of State was currently being prosecuted in criminal court, and regardless of any “media bias” it would be unrealistic to state that no media would report it. Whilst many on the right claim that Clinton is not covered negatively in the media, many on the left and Hillary supporters claim otherwise. In 2016, The New York Times (who endorsed Clinton for the presidency and are generally seen as left leaning) faced a barrage of criticism for allegedly focusing too much on her emails.
Trump has struggled to get the mud to stick to Biden’s run. He lacks the catchphrase “lock her up” often heard throughout his rallies, still to this day. Biden has a positive image throughout the American people, regardless of political affiliation. He doesn’t really have any scandals and often polls as a likeable figure, something Clinton deeply struggled with due to her “untrustworthy” image. The attempts from the Trump campaign to focus on Hunter seem jolted, the mention of Ukraine and alleged shady dealings in the country brings up connotations of Trump’s impeachment. It also seems his family can’t decide on a sticking point either. Trump’s sons Eric and Donald Jr have tweeted a vast amount of theories regarding Biden, ranging from his mental competence to the value of his house. The sexual assault allegations came and went despite conservative media using images of Biden’s overtly tactical approach as evidence and Trump struggles to raise this for fear of his own allegations beings used as counter fire. The junior Trumps also rely heavily on Hunter and allegations of nepotism, again opening themselves up to the same allegations and comparisons. There was also the infamous moment in the debate in which Trump brought up Hunter which lead to a reference to Biden’s son Beau, who died in 2016 following a battle with brain cancer. Beau served in the military and was often seen as the heir to the Biden political dynasty. Beau remains off-limits to the Trumps for fear of damaging his appeal to the military, and due to somewhat decency on their belhalf considering his tragic death. By referring to Beau’s military service also brings to the forefront Trump’s comments on military veterans, allegedly referring to them as “suckers” and “losers.”
QAnon also doesn’t have much on Biden either, preferring to align their false theories at the likes of Obama and Clinton, despite neither having a current active role in politics. Then there is the sticking point of Biden’s nickname. Trump is famous for using derogatory names for his political rivals, Elizabeth Warren is Pocahontas because of her statement that she has Native American ancestry, Bernie Sanders was Crazy Bernie, and Clinton was of course “Crooked Hillary” however the President has managed to rack up fifteen nicknames for Biden over the course of his 2020 campaign:
“1%” -Because he’s considered to be within the one per cent which refers to the top 1% wealthiest people in society that have a disproportionate share of capital, political influence, and the means of production. Trump claims to be a billionaire.
“Basement/Joe ‘Hiden’” — A reference to Biden seemingly hiding in his ‘basement’ to avoid contracting coronavirus. Biden has operated a scaled back in-public person campaign due to COVID-19. There is no literal evidence he hid in an actual basement.
“Beijing/China Joe” — Pence referred to Joe Biden as being a “cheerleader for communists decades” during his debate with Vice President candidate Kamala Harris. Hunter Biden allegedly took meetings in China. A recent controversial New York Post article that an email from Hunter Biden indicated that he was receiving a $10m annual fee from a Chinese billionaire for “introductions alone” (to his father.)
“Corrupt/Quid Pro Joe” — reference to the allegations against Hunter Biden.
“Crazy/Sleepy/Creepy/Slow” — A long-standing theory and genuine worry that voters have in the upcoming US Presidental Election is both candidates ages. Whoever wins on November 3rd will automatically become the oldest elected President in American history. Whilst people on the left focus on Trump’s various false statements, many on the right look at Biden’s apparent incoherence. Biden as a senator has known his grand, long speeches, with allegations that would never just get to the point. His occasional gaffes in forgetting names, telling stories that don’t seem to go anywhere and mixing updates and references have had a few in the States call for a competence test, claiming his age is affecting his mental stamina. President Trump also called out Biden’s frequent use of teleprompters, and before the first (and now only) presidential debate accused his campaign of planning to use an earpiece to direct Biden in answers.
“O’Biden” — a reference to President Obama who Joe Biden served as Vice President to for 8 years. President Trump is a vocal critic of the previous president.
These constant nicknames make it incredibly difficult for MAGA merchandisers to print coffee mugs, t-shirts and bumper stickers.
The current one that is being attempted by the Trump campaign and seems to the one they are settled on as we approach the election is “Sleepy Joe” From a marketing perspective, “sleepy” doesn’t quite have the same effect as “crooked” so it’s impact is weakened.
However, only November 3rd will see if we watch Sleepy Joe elected to office, or will President Trump’s marketing successes of 2016 prevail?
Kurtis Reid is a freelance journalist from Belfast, Northern Ireland.
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