The former vice president has appeared in public only sparingly since the pandemic hit — and with the strictest adherence to state guidelines: 25 people in Pennsylvania, 50 in Michigan and mandatory face-coverings all around.
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Biden’s approach reflects the reluctance of many of his supporters to attend large gatherings.
For someone who has never been a natural in an arena, the smaller events allow Biden to have more personal interactions with representatives from key voting blocs, like labor and community leaders.
But they also allow him to largely avoid any controversy created by a critical questioner or a protester, both of whom he was forced to grapple with multiple times on the campaign trail before the pandemic struck.
Even when Biden is confronted with organic crowds of supporters, he’s rarely given the opportunity for an unscripted interaction with them.
As Biden gave a speech last week focused on the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus at a university building in Pittsburgh, a crowd of more than 100 gathered and continued to arrive even as his event wrapped up.
They chanted “We want Joe!” and waved Biden signs, some of them homemade.
But, after his speech, Biden remained inside the building to attend a virtual fundraiser, then abruptly left to pass out pizzas at a nearby firehouse without approaching the supporters.
Three days later, after Biden visited Kenosha, Wisconsin, he and his wife, Jill, stopped at the home of a supporter in Wauwatosa, a leafy Milwaukee suburb.