Joe Biden was whipping through his stump speech at a rustic lakeside campground here when he stumbled over the location of where exactly he spoke a few hours earlier at nearby Dartmouth College.
“I want to be clear, I’m not going nuts,” Biden told supporters perched on camp chairs on the shore of Loon Lake as the sun sank behind him, turning the sky sherbet shades of purple and pink. “I’m not sure whether it was the medical school or where the hell I spoke. But it was on the campus.”
It was a minuscule misstatement. But Biden’s irritation — he pointedly looked at the media covering the event as he corrected himself — was clear.
The former vice president is the front-runner in the 2020 Democratic presidential race, yet he is facing real questions about the fragility of that status. Any misstep or gaffe sparks a flurry of news coverage that undermines the premise of his campaign — that he is the candidate best equipped to beat President Trump.
Four months since he launched his bid, Biden is intensifying his campaign’s focus on the electability argument. His first television ad emphasizes polls that show him beating Trump. The candidate stresses the point at campaign events. Even his wife, Jill Biden, pointedly argued to Democrats here that they should vote for Biden even if they liked another candidate better because he had the best chance of winning next year.