How seriously can we take talk of the media’s Joe Biden Comeback narrative? The Washington Post reports that Biden will make his midterm campaign start this week on behalf of beleaguered fellow Democrats. The Post also reports that many of them would prefer Biden stay in Rehoboth.

So much for the Comeback Kid:

He’s being attacked more often in televised ads than Obama was at this point in 2010, or Trump was in 2018. He goes largely unnamed on Democratic campaign websites and Twitter accounts. And candidates in key races in battleground states are either not asking him to come — or actively avoiding him when he does, according to a Washington Post survey of more than 60 candidates in the most competitive gubernatorial, U.S. Senate and congressional campaigns in the country.

Few candidates said they wanted Biden to campaign for them in their state or district, with many not responding to the question at all. The Post also asked if candidates wanted Vice President Harris as a surrogate campaigner for the Biden administration and got the same set of unenthusiastic responses.

“No comment from the campaign at this time,” said a spokeswoman for Sen. Michael F. Bennet (D-Colo), who is a Republican target in a state that Biden won by more than 13 points.

“We have not asked President Biden or VP Harris to campaign in Ohio and have no plans to do so,” said a spokeswoman for Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), who is the Democratic nominee in a tight U.S. Senate race. Pointing to a range of surrogates for Republican nominee J.D. Vance, the spokeswoman, Izzi Levy, added, “Tim has been very clear that he wants to be the face of this campaign, and that’s not changing anytime soon.”

Even those who aren’t outright opposed to Biden aren’t clamoring for him to show up in their races:

Several Democratic candidates didn’t say they were opposed to Biden appearing with them in their states. But they weren’t exactly warmly embracing the idea, either.

That lack of enthusiasm extends to places Biden won less than two years ago. In Arizona, Mark Kelly has mostly ducked all of the major debates in the past eighteen months to keep one of the lowest profiles in the Senate, hoping to sneak past the voters in the upcoming midterms. CNN’s Jake Tapper tried to pin Kelly down on campaigning with Biden, who won Arizona in 2020, and Kelly professed his fealty to Biden but didn’t sound enthusiastic about doing so in Arizona (via Townhall):

TAPPER: Would you want President Biden to come to Arizona and campaign with you?

KELLY: Hey, I will welcome anybody that come to Arizona, travel around the state at any time, as long as I’m here, if I’m not up in Washington in session, and talk about what Arizona needs. This water situation is significant. And, right now, we have some of the tools necessary to deal with it. I’m trying to get some answers from the Department of Interior on more — like, what authority do they have to make some decisions themselves on this? Because, as I said earlier, the other states are not stepping up to help Arizona deal with this. But if anybody wants to come to Arizona and talk about Arizona issues or issues that affect the country, I will be here.

TAPPER: Well, that’s not exactly an open invitation to President Biden to come and campaign with you, even though he won the state of Arizona in 2020, saying you would welcome anybody.

This goes well beyond Biden’s soggy job-approval ratings, which have only barely rebounded to 40.9/55.8 in the latest RCP aggregate. It’s not entirely about Biden’s personal-favorability flop in office, where’s he’s now at 40.7/54 in RCP’s aggregate, and has been mired in the negative ever since Biden abandoned Americans in Afghanistan. Biden’s disastrous personal favorables are a significant part of the reason Democrats want to distance themselves from Biden, a point that apparently hasn’t sunk into the thick skulls around Biden, who think that Biden’s avuncular “Scranton Joe” act still sells.

No, this is mainly about the right/wrong direction message that voters have been sending since last year. Today’s NBC News poll and its 74% wrong-direction finding was no outlier; the current RCP aggregate average is 22.9/70.9. And with Democrats in control of the White House, Senate, and House, that’s a measure of their leadership — a very bad measure.

That’s why vulnerable Democratic incumbents don’t want Biden on their campaign trails. They’ll have to run against Biden and disassociate themselves from his leadership to stand any chance at all. Remember this when reading the media narratives about Biden’s “comeback” — not even his own party wants him around.

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