Sen. Will Smith (D-Montgomery) said one of presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s most formidable tasks will be to unite different factions of the party.
The Democratic National Convention begins on Monday night and ends on Thursday night, when Biden is expected to accept the nomination. The convention is being held virtually due to concerns related to the pandemic. It was supposed to be held in-person at the Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee. Biden’s running mate, California Sen. Kamala Harris, is the first woman of color to be on a major presidential ticket.
A CNN poll released on Sunday night showed Biden’s once formidable lead over President Donald Trump drop to four percentage points, which is within the margin of error of the survey. The poll also showed Biden and Trump virtually tied in more than a dozen crucial battleground states.
“One of the things for the presidential nominee is to make an appeal that he has a vision-not just a return to Barack Obama’s glory days-but a vision for the future which incorporates a lot of that progressive base as well as kind of that centrist moderate Democrat that he’s obviously been for his career,” Smith told MarylandReporter.com in a phone interview on Monday.
Smith, who is chair of the Judicial Proceedings Committee, said Democrats should embrace the Black Lives Matter movement, which has called for greater accountability for police misconduct and is popular among progressive grassroots activists.
“Every candidate and every speaker would be wise to definitely give a nod toward the Black Lives Matter movement because we are in the midst of a racial reckoning and a conversation that is long overdue. And it’s something that every speaker should embrace and acknowledge.”
Former Maryland Gov. Parris Glendening, a Democrat, said Biden must strongly emphasize his commitment to both fighting the coronavirus pandemic and addressing racial inequality.
“We have to make it clear that we Democrats are substantively about addressing the major issues that face the country. We are about solving the pandemic crisis and we are about addressing with a commitment to the social justice issue.”
Glendening, like Smith, said Democrats should embrace Black Lives Matter. However, he said the party should steer clear of the movement’s more extreme elements.
“The issues of police reform and of addressing social justice-making sure that police brutality is eliminated everywhere-those are very real very serious issues. At the same time….we can avoid the extremes of being painted as ‘abolish the police…’ I don’t know of any serious person in the party who is saying ‘abolish the police.”
Glendening said CNN’s poll should not be taken too seriously.
“We’re going to see a lot of movement in the polls. I think there’s a lot of general unrest and concern out there…It’s going to be a lot of work. But I believe very strongly that Biden-Harris will win a good margin in the popular vote. They’ll win a little bit tighter, but clear win, in the electoral vote.”
Richard Vatz, a professor of political persuasion at Towson University, said Democrats need to make the case to the American people that their 77-year-old candidate is up to the job.
“Democrats need to show that Vice President Biden is steady and not losing his cognitive abilities, as is widely speculated on.”
Vatz added: “In addition, he needs to demonstrate that his ticket will not be so progressive that it is threatening to the economic and social stability of the country, while simultaneously demonstrating to progressives that Biden and Harris will be more progressive than any previous ticket. Tough, tough balancing act.”
Vatz said Democrats’ close association with Black Lives Matter could hurt their chances of defeating Trump.
“If radical BLM partisans seem like they are significantly influential, it will hurt the national ticket.”
Vatz, like Glendening, downplayed the CNN poll.
“A Washington Post-ABC poll has Biden-Harris ahead by double digits. Polling results are problematic before the “conventions” and debates, especially with a virtual unknown like Harris in the race. In addition polls on polling have shown that people are not always honest in their responses in polls on Donald Trump.”