'Biden is not a good bad guy': GOP rips up midterm playbook

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Biden is proving to be a less-than-ideal foil, forcing Republicans to rethink the traditional formula for 2022.
In response, Republicans are preparing to break with time-honored custom and cast the president less as the central character in the midterm elections than as an accessory to the broader excesses of the left.

"Biden is not a good bad guy," said Ed Rogers, the veteran Republican lobbyist and strategist. "Obama was a haughty professor … The Uncle Joe life story that he has — the tragedy, the losses, the obvious empathy the man has, I think that's all legit. So, it's hard to demonize him."

Former President Barack Obama, standing with then-Vice President Joe Biden, delivers remarks in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, July 14, 2015, after an Iran nuclear deal is reached. | AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

The traditional formula worked spectacularly for Republicans in 2010, when the GOP tethered Democratic candidates across the country to then-President Barack Obama's stimulus spending, health care plan and "arrogant" governance. And it worked for Democrats eight years later, when they retook the House by turning the midterms into a repudiation of President Donald Trump.

Now, however, Republicans are gearing up to run against everything from "defund the police" to socialism and cancel culture. They'll hit Biden on gun control, spending and immigration. And if the economy stalls, they'll whack him for that, too. But the emphasis will be less on Biden personally than it was on either Obama or Trump, the Republican strategists and party officials say.

That approach, currently under discussion with Republicans at every level and already visible in the GOP's early advertising, will shape the entire arc of the midterm campaign. It's risky. Though Republicans appear to be verging on taking back the House, that expectation is grounded in historical trends based on the opposition party's ability to bludgeon the president in his first term.

But the GOP may have little choice.

"Because [Biden] is so boring, he's not as scandalous," said John Thomas, a…
David Siders
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