While Joe Biden was giving his Super Tuesday victory speech, two women stormed the stage — not to get at the former Vice President, but to attract attention.
I know the old expression “there’s no such thing as bad publicity,” but I don’t see how their actions help their cause. I know what they’re espousing, but it’s irrelevant to this discussion. My point would be the same whether they were climate activists, anti-abortion advocates, America First zealots, or Black Lives Matter.
The women — and activists like them — might argue that getting visibility and going viral creates discussion, but afterwards, no one was talking about their cause. Instead, all the chatter has been about Jill Biden literally grabbing the women and, with the help of the senior adviser Symone Sanders, forcing them off the stage and away from the candidate. It was the best defensive move I’ve seen against an on-stage interloper since Pete Townshend used his guitar to whack Abbie Hoffman on the head when the latter climbed up and started making a speech during The Who’s set at Woodstock.
If you’re wondering where the Secret Service was in all of this, they’re not in the business of protecting Joe Biden at the moment. Yes, they were with him during his years as VP, but that responsibility expired six months after he left office. He’ll automatically get full protection again if he becomes the Democratic nominee this summer, but until then, he (and Bernie Sanders) would have to formally request it from the Department of Homeland Security, which they have not done. In the past, requests have, on occasion, been granted by DHS before the party’s nominating convention. For instance, the Secret Service started protecting Barack Obama in May, 2007, nine months before the first primaries of the 2008 election (a good thing, since he got more death threats than any public official in US history).
Whatever the issues championed by the women who tried to get in Biden’s face Tuesday night, they failed, because jumping onto someone else’s stage and trying to steal the spotlight serves as nothing more than a distraction. Think back to others who have tried similar moves in the past. Can you remember what any of them were making such a fuss about?
The only thing I recall is that, in each instance, we witnessed the definition of bad messaging strategy.