vision 2020

77-Year-Old Candidate Hopes ‘No Malarkey’ Bus Will Excite Voters

Photo: Joshua Lott/Getty Images

So far in the Democratic primary, front-runner Joe Biden has had a comparatively light schedule, holding the fewest public events in Iowa and New Hampshire of any 2020 hopeful. But as the former vice-president’s support dips in Iowa, his campaign has scheduled an eight-day blitz across 18 counties in an attempt to secure a win in the first state to caucus. It’s a new day for his campaign, and with it comes a new phrase; or, rather, a really old phrase slapped on a new bus.

The slogan isn’t doing any favors for the 77-year-old candidate facing many critics claiming that he is too old for high office. (Though he is one of four septuagenarians in the Democratic primaries running against the 73-year-old incumbent, Biden’s frequent gaffes are pointed to as evidence of his decline as a public speaker.) The use of old-timey Irish-American slang is unlikely to shore up his support among young Hawkeye voters, though it could be a call to his majority in the state: Only 5 percent of Biden’s Iowa supporters are under 45.

Biden has a long history as the only politician to still use the polite, Jazz Age synonym for “bullshit” “Don’t buy all this malarkey that we’re in so much trouble,” he told a crowd in Philadelphia in 1988 in his first run for president. In a vice-presidential debate in 2012, in response to Paul Ryan’s critique over the administration’s handling of the Benghazi attack, Biden said, “With all due respect, that’s a bunch of malarkey.” And in a 2016 speech at the Democratic National Convention, Biden said that Trump’s claims that he “cares about the middle class” are “a bunch of malarkey.” Though it’s probably not the greatest slogan when it requires the dictionary definition of the operative word to be painted on the back of the bus, Biden’s joins a long tradition of corny bus names on the presidential trail, including Ted Cruz’s “Courageous Cruzer,” John Edwards’s “Main Street Express” and “Daddy Worked in a Mill” fleet, and Mitt Romney’s indefensible “Mitt Mobile: A Five Brothers Bus.”

If the eight-day tour was designed to show Biden at his most politically acute, the inaugural event on Saturday could have gone better. As Jill Biden introduced him to a crowd in Council Bluffs, the former vice-president put his wife’s finger in his mouth.

Joe Biden Vows to End Malarkey With New Campaign Bus