“Some say if we’d all just calm down, the Republicans will come to their senses,” Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts said earlier this month. “But our country is in a time of crisis.”
Her comments came at a Democratic gathering in California where 14 candidates chose to speak, trying to strengthen ties in a crucial early-voting state offering a trove of delegates. That same weekend, Mr. Biden stood alone on a stage in Columbus, Ohio, in the heart of the industrial Midwest, to deliver an impassioned speech in support of L.G.B.T. equality, but also to project strength in territory that has tilted right in the Trump era.
“Look at what the Chamber’s doing,” Mr. Biden said, an apparent approving reference to the conservative-leaning Chamber of Commerce, as he noted growing support for L.G.B.T. rights. “Look at what the business community is doing. Guess what? They figured it out.”
Mr. Biden’s campaign, which began later than most of his opponents’, has had a lighter footprint in the early-voting primary states, though his team has started to increase that presence in recent weeks. He has also skipped several events that drew many in the field — including the Iowa gathering and the party convention in California — but is expected at a number of multicandidate events in South Carolina this weekend and is one of several contenders slated to address a poverty-focused conference in Washington on Monday.
“Just because you don’t see him hold an event at a restaurant, something of that nature, does not mean he’s not campaigning for president,” said Representative Cedric Richmond of Louisiana, national co-chairman of Mr. Biden’s campaign. “His call demand is, I am sure of this, higher than anyone else’s, because I get calls all day every day saying, ‘Hey, this person says they haven’t talked to the vice president yet.’ If I’m fielding those calls all day just as a member of Congress, then I know what the vice president is getting directly.”
Mr. Biden is also in the process of rolling out policy proposals, though he lags behind a number of his opponents on that front as well. The former vice president often makes the case that no Democratic plan is possible without first defeating Mr. Trump, bringing the focus back to the campaign’s overriding objective.
It is a contrast with the boldly progressive visions outlined by many of his opponents who don’t dwell as much on the current political stalemate in Washington.