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Biden camp gears up for 'unprecedented' campaign
by Matt Simonette
2020-05-13

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A representative from former Vice President Joe Biden's presidential campaign told supporters from Illinois' LGBT community they'd be running "a campaign that nobody has ever seen before" as they pivot to general-election strategies to unseat incumbent President Donald Trump.

Deputy Campaign Manager Rufus Gifford, who is gay and was previously ambassador to Denmark under President Barack Obama, added during the May 13 online discussion that he'd recently joined the Biden campaign because Democrats "need everybody doing everything they possibly can."

Reggie Greer, the campaign's LGBTQ liaison, admitted Biden was theoretically at a disadvantage in two respects: the voting public is quite frequently predisposed towards re-electing incumbents, and the 2020 campaign in all likelihood would be carried out online as the United States grapples with the coronavirus pandemic.

"We are completely throwing out the old playbooks," said Greer, adding that LGBT voters are a "key part" of the Democratic Party's constituency. As such, Biden is boasting a multi-pronged LGBT platform, principal components of which include protections for LGBT youth; restoring legal protections for transgender Americans that have been lost during the Trump administration; signing the Equality Act into law; and making the U.S. a leader in furthering LGBT-rights worldwide.

"There's never been more at stake in an election," added Chicago activist Justin DeJong, who is also a former Obama administration official. DeJong asked the participants to engage their online and real-time networks in the months ahead. Online gatherings, he said, would likely function as "virtual campaign rallies."

A few participants asked whether local campaign officials would be directing supporters and resources to nearby swing-states such as Wisconsin and Michigan. Chicago Ald. James Cappleman ( 46th Ward ) recalled doing phone-banking for Hillary Clinton in the final days of the 2016 election and feeling panic upon hearing the leanings of voters there, for example. Another participant asked about participating in voter registration drives in Wisconsin.

Greer answered that a key goal for the Biden campaign is making a push for "a comprehensive civic literacy" among voters, an endeavor that would indeed include educational efforts about the importance of voting.

Despite his myriad difficulties in navigating both the pandemic and its economic aftermath, Trump still has been enjoying a sizable fundraising lead over Biden. But Gifford said that the former vice president was quickly catching up to Trump, with both candidates raising about $60 million in April. Nevertheless, Gifford added, circumstances dictate an aggressive campaign from the Democrats, who will need the support of LGBT voters.

"It's an unprecedented time and we need unprecedented effort," he said.


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