New York Times triggers Biden aides with editorial urging Democrats to be 'more moderate'

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The New York Times snubbed Joe Biden as too moderate last year while endorsing candidates in the Democratic primary, and annoyed White House aides reminded the paper of that Friday after the editorial board urged Democrats to embrace “moderate policies” following brutal results for Democrats this week.

Following an electoral drubbing in Virginia and warning signs for Democrats across the country on Tuesday, the editorial board said it was a “political nightmare” for its preferred party.

“What would do justice, and what is badly needed, is an honest conversation in the Democratic Party about how to return to the moderate policies and values that fueled the blue-wave victories in 2018 and won Joe Biden the presidency in 2020,” the board wrote.

It echoed words from endangered Virginia Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D., about President Biden not being elected to be “FDR” after Republican Glenn Youngkin won the state’s governorship.

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“Mr. Biden did not win the Democratic primary because he promised a progressive revolution. There were plenty of other candidates doing that. He captured the nomination — and the presidency — because he promised an exhausted nation a return to sanity, decency and competence,” the board wrote. “Democrats agree about far more than they disagree about. But it doesn’t look that way to voters after months and months of intraparty squabbling. Time to focus on — and pass — policies with broad support. Or risk getting run out of office.”

The call to retreat to the middle by the staunchly liberal board appeared to vex some of Biden’s most visible staffers.

Chief of Staff Ron Klain and White House Communications Director Kate Bedingfield both linked back to the Times’ infamous endorsement of not one but two candidates in the Democratic primary fight – Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn. – which also dinged Biden as too old and seeking to restore the “status quo.”

White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain, Press Secretary Jen Psaki and Communications Director Kate Bedingfield are seen without protective face masks in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, U.S., May 13, 2021.
(REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

“But, um…this is you guys, too, right @nytopinion? On 1/19/20?” Bedingfield asked, also quoting the Times’ line that his “agenda tinkers at the edge of issues like health care and climate.”

Biden got the last laugh on the Times, as neither Warren nor Klobuchar won a single primary, while Biden overcame early disappointments in Iowa and New Hampshire to clinch the nomination.

Deputy White House press secretary Andrew Bates also went in on the Times, except he quoted the Times’ endorsement of Biden over Donald Trump once he had won the Democratic nomination. The Times hasn’t endorsed a Republican candidate for president since Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956.

(Getty Images/Photo Illustration)

Tuesday’s elections were widely viewed as a rebuke of Biden, whose approval ratings have sagged amid concerns over inflation, lingering pandemic problems, a rocky Afghanistan pullout, and parents angry over school closings and coronavirus policies.

The wins by Youngkin, Lt. Gov.- elect Winsome Sears and Attorney General-elect Jason Miyares marked the first statewide victories for Republicans in Virginia since 2009. Biden carried Virginia by 10 points in 2020.

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