Ruben Navarrette: Warren and Biden still have plenty of fight left in them


Ruben Navarrette column
Ruben Navarrette commentary
Tribune graphic

SAN DIEGO — When you're in a hurry, you're more likely to cut corners and make mistakes.

The media are no different. At the moment, they are in a terrible hurry. They want to simplify the 2020 election by thinning out the herd of Democratic candidates for president and finding the strongest candidate to defeat President Trump. And they want to do all of this as soon as possible, so they'll have more time to manipulate their coverage of the rest of the election over the next several months.

Of course, the media aren't as powerful as they like to think. If they were, Trump would never have been elected in the first place. Yet, be that as it may, this is the plan. And the sooner it gets executed, the better.

Still, in rushing through the process, the media made the mistake of counting out, after we heard from Iowa and New Hampshire, the two candidates who might just have the best chance to accomplish what Democrats claim is their No. 1 goal: defeating Trump.

Dismissed and brushed aside were Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and former Vice President Joe Biden. Warren finished third in Iowa and fourth in New Hampshire; that last one stung because Warren represents a neighboring state. Biden finished fourth in Iowa and fifth in New Hampshire.


Both campaigns argued that the race wasn't over, and that only two states had weighed in. But the pundits, columnists and commentators didn't listen. It's over for Biden, we said. And it'll soon be over for Warren, we declared.

But then came Nevada, and last Wednesday's raucous debate in Las Vegas, where everyone on stage seemed to be attacking everyone else. Both Warren and Biden proved that, when their backs are up against the wall, they still have a lot of fight left in them. Perhaps enough to stand toe-to-toe with Trump.

For now, however, most of their collective punches landed on the chin of former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The billionaire businessman — himself a media mogul — is the perfect foil for both Warren and Biden. To Warren, Bloomberg represents the boorish and chauvinistic tycoon from the "Mad Men" era who insults and objectifies women and then covers his tracks with sinister non-disclosure agreements. To Biden --— who grew up in working-class Scranton, Pennsylvania — Bloomberg is the wealthy and arrogant member of the 1% who has forgotten what it's like to work hard all week and still not know if you'll be able to support your family.

Just as importantly, Warren and Biden have the same secret weapon. They can cobble together — in a field of niche candidates who try to not stray too far from their comfort zones— different constituencies that appear at first glance to have very little in common. Warren is going after the support of women of all colors and economic backgrounds, and she seems to inspire both young and old. Biden seems to have a strong grip on African American voters, but he has previously done well with mostly white working-class "lunch bucket" Democrats in Rust Belt states like Ohio and Michigan. And when Telemundo did a poll last week of Latino voters in Nevada, Biden came in second behind Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

The magic trick of bringing together people is especially important and valuable in the Age of Trump, when Americans have been divided into tribes who are constantly being triggered to attack one another and have no interest in looking for common ground with those who hold opposing views.

This is especially true with the left, who are so blinded by their anti-Trump hatred that they are ready to go to war over the silliest and most trivial of things. For instance, when White House senior adviser Stephen Miller recently got married, The New York Times ran a wedding announcement. Liberal readers were incensed — not so much at Miller but at the newspaper.

How dare a publication that is supposed to be spreading news, well, spread news?

Warren and Biden have had their setbacks, but both have turned out to be pretty sturdy. Either one could give Trump a run for his money in the general election. That is, if they survive the primary. That could be the most difficult trick of all.


Ruben Navarrette can be reached at

Correction: A recent column claimed that, when quizzed, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg did not know the name of the president of Mexico. Buttigieg did, in fact, correctly identify Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.

Related Topics: ELECTION 2020JOE BIDEN
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