How Biden Uses His ‘Car Guy’ Persona to Burnish His Everyman Image

Oct 26, 2022 · 41 comments
Fred Quimby (Tucson, AZ)
I'm going to go out on a limb and say that there is pretty much nothing he can do at this point to attract Republican voters. He should focus on reputational queues that motivate his base.
Adam (London)
This reminds of all the old pictures of downtowns before cars, full of life and commerce. Now it’s just parking lots and you no longer have the freedom of not needing a car to get around. Cars have ruined America. The last thing we need is a president that loves cars.
Vince Carter (Washington, DC)
Trump visits Carrier Plant and says it won't shut down - wrong. It closed and moved the jobs to Mexico. Indiana went on to lose 5800 manufacturing jobs. Biden and Dems pass Infrastructure and Jobs Act, CHIPS Act and Inflation Reduction Act. Intel will build a manufacturing plant in Ohio - 3000 permanent jobs, 5000 construction jobs. Another semiconductor plant is going in in Arizona - more jobs. Roads, subway extensions, investment tax credits - all done under Democratic majorities with a D President. Republicans passed "tax reform" in 2017 = highest deficits in history and great tax breaks for the wealthy and corporations. Geeee, what is it about this that's so difficult to understand?
frankly 32 (by the sea)
Biden's an A- president, but his car consciousness is as limited as America's. I remember in 6th grade, looking at 1959 Oldsmobile bought by neighbors. And all Detroit's advertising crashed. It was, let's be honest, just a huge, ugly block of steel with 500 lbs. of chrome hanging off it. It drove like a house and got 10 mpg. Detroit was entering Death Spiral. Its only cool cars were the 57 T-birds and Corvettes. Kitty corner from that Oldsmobile was our neighborhood's first VW Beetle. They've made bazillions of them since, while Oldsmobile is dead. WE NEED A CAR REVOLUTION! And it isn't new $100,000 electric trucks. What have been the great people's cars? The model T, the Beetle, the Citroen 2CV, the first MINIS & Toyotas... What we need is an affordable/functional American car. Throw that ginormous gov bible out, but meet these specs: * 50 mpg or more. * Passengers can survive a crash. * Minimum practical pollution *4 wheel drive capable, * Con vert able to truck or camper & It should COST LESS THAN $10,000! It could happen. And this is how. Have a national design contest. Winner closest to these targets goes out for bids to all American car manufacturers. Just like in World War 2 with the B-17, designed by Boeing in Seattle, but manufactured here, in Southern California and Detroit. And if it requires government subsidies, so be it, because the benefits of good, affordable transportation would be enormous. FDR would approve.
grjag (Colorado)
@frankly32 Yes! We have enough Detroit chrome mountains already. A car that is functional & affordable is the ticket.
PWR (Malverne)
Most of the time, Biden portrays himself as an up by his own bootstraps blue collar guy who remembers his parents worrying over the kitchen table about how to make ends meet. Today he's a former high school cool kid whose car dealer father gave him hot cars to impress the girls with.
mpound (USA)
There's an old story about Lyndon Johnson, who loved racing around his Texas ranch in Lincoln Continentals. When he bought one Lincoln he believed to be a lemon, he angrily called up Henry Ford II himself and said "Henry, your family just doesn't build 'em the way they used to."
SSC (Alameda, California)
Not a lot of car guys or gals in this crowd. Being a multi-Gen car enthusiast, like the president, it easy to tell he truly is a car guy by the look on his face when getting a chance to get behind the wheel. Running up the wide open two lane black top, beneath a blue sky, at speed, is the very definition of personal freedom, and in an old Stingray convertible, pleasure. As far as the basic premise of the piece, I think the article itself answered that in data form. "After Mr. Biden’s visit to Ford last year, when he test-drove the electric F-150 Lightning, the company received 200,000 reservations for the new truck." Does anyone really think that was 200,000 Ford pickup trucks ordered only by Dems…
Evan (Berlin)
A gearhead is someone frequently found under the hood, wrench in hand. This term has been thoroughly abused by bon vivants over the years. When Joe gets his hands greasy, maybe then he will be relatable.
Neptune (NJ)
This is what our political process has come down to: Can we woo willfully low-information Trumpsters with the idea that Joe is a regular Joe because he likes muscle cars?
Steph B (SE PA)
@Neptune I'm a high-information liberal. I love cars. Stop stereotyping and just enjoy the article for what it is.
Chris (Louisiana)
Personally I think Biden is a genuine car guy and that the train guy persona is the political play.
Sandra (Ohio)
Unfortunately there is not a lot to like in modern cars. They all look alike. The wimpy turbos are embarrassing. When I accelerate is screams MOMMY! Passing or merging at speed will not happen. Drive to the next exit and hope to get it on the flip flop. The aerodynamic styling is like driving a greenhouse. The AC is always cranked. As a result of the need for high AC, MPG is no better than the real car I retired to buy this disappointment. Still miss the previous car. It had a 4.9 L V-8 with OD trans. That car would step out! Now my garage houses a thing that makes me most happy when I get out. Car makers as well as home appliance manufacturers game the system the meet fed regs for planet happy goals that are not accomplished. Climate change is real and must be addressed. Forcing consumers to buy expensive items that do not accomplish this is just one more failure fo the two party system.
Ron (outwest)
Most auto enthusiasts can put aside pettiness and speak of interest to mechanical changes. The rabid X#45 lovers are learning their Messiah is not all he promised to be not even close he was a spectacular expensive failure. History of change in the automobile is in improvement, power, comfort, safety, reliability and independence for the consumer. Most people depend on automobiles for transportation the auto industry created obsolescence in mass transit but today we are attempting to return to mass transit. Serving the people is what government is all about-- serving ones self puts selfishness and personal gain ahead of the interests of the very people that selected you for leadership. Trying to overthrow our nations government does not endear you to the nation. Like building cars that are unsafe at any speed.
Andy (USA)
And there is nothing about when Vice President Biden washed his Trans-Am in front of the White House? That is his most famous moment.
mpound (USA)
@Andy Those pics of him washing his Trans-Am were Photoshop pics for a gag article in The Onion back in 2009. You can google it and read the article. It is pretty funny.
Paul (Northern California)
Seriously? What a fluff piece. Biden is a car guy loving the iconic gas guzzlers of his white privilege days while the rest of us are supposed to be focused on electric cars we can't afford or ride bikes he can't even manage to stay on without crashing. Meanwhile my high-paid lawyer friend tells me she just qualified for student loan forgiveness because she showed little income in 2021 after using Covid that year to take some time off to re-center. But she will take the money to put solar on her roof because she's fortunate to own a home. I either don't qualify or am too poor to take advantage of any of it after 30 years in the military which I opted for instead of taking out student loans to go to college. So yes, please distract us some more from Biden's disastrous policies. Oh look, squirrel!
Chris (Georgia)
Did you ever think that he just really likes cars and gearheads? And that he is deep down an everyman? Why does it always have to be cynical interpretation with journalists?
I love my house (PA)
Biden knows how to drive stick shift and owns a Corvette. Trump doesn't know anything more about cars than the degree of plushness of the rear seat of a limo. I doubt that he even knows how to drive.
A. (NJ)
@I love my house Right, because no one actually cares about that sort of thing. They care about politics, and Biden's aren't going to sway anyone who isn't already on his side.
Alberto Abrizzi (Bay Area)
It’s nice to know that our President cherishes the distinct freedom, mobility, power and style associated with American cars even as he and his party replace such cars with the monolithic sameness of a new generation of driving appliances.
William (Minnesota)
Nice to read commentary about Biden without the usual accents on his age, shortcomings, or dire prospects. All politicians posture as though they were like the average Joe, but Biden brings to that role a more natural disposition than most politicians can match, but Reagan riding a horse is a close second.
Paul (Portland)
Mr Biden campaigned as a moderate but has governed from the left. Sorry, but nostalgic trips down Gasoline Alley won't change his or the Dems election prospects.
Sandra (Ohio)
@Paul That's the kicker. Biden abdicated left abandoning the rest of us. If the lefties actually voted Sanders wold be in his second term.
KWS (Lewes, DE)
With the price of gas in the Biden administration, i wouldn’t mention cars if I was him. Will be detrimental to his future election plans.
Robert (Basking Ridge NJ)
The is something organically embedded in the minds of car people (male and female). Such people are concerned with the proper care, maintenance, and operation of things in one’s world, be it mechanical like a vehicle or a home, or something more complex like a business, an economy, or [gasp] even a democracy. All these “things” are wonderful when they work, and frightening when they do not. When something is being used in a manner for which it was not designed, it is subject to failure. A failed vehicle is one thing; a failed democracy is quite another and possibly unrepairable. Once democracy fails, what are our options? Car people are usually aware of more than just the end results; they are aware of how to properly get to the end results without damaging the whole operation in the process.
David (Florida)
I never cared much for Jay Leno and his "car guy" claims. That was supported when he made the claims that ultrasonic cleaning hazardous wastes (e.g. spent grease and oils, heavy metals etc.) could simply be disposed of down the drain. Many others in the car world pointed out his seriously incorrect mistake, but it went to show he is just the one with the money. Ive seen some other similar incorrect statements made by him though I cant remember them all. But the final straw was his TV commercials with his various claims about collecting his Social Security payments. He clearly has no need of social security and that he does collect them shows his utter greed and contempt for everyone else in society. He sits on a fortune which he certainly did not work very hard to earn but then worries about his government payouts while others have only such payments for their entire survival.
Tom Oster (Seattle, WA)
Kind of hard to be a car guy when the party you lead pretty clearly wants to ban cars, at least for most ordinary people.
Machiavelli (Firenze)
But people who should see this don’t watch network tv so he’s not reaching the folks he wants to influence.
Adams (Boston)
It's very important that complex foreign policy decisions aren't being made by someone who doesn't own an old Corvette or similar vehicle. Why this is important, I have no idea.
Bill (Midwest)
Invest in hydrogen production and fuel cell technology. Sodium cooled fast breeder reactors to power the car plants. Sell America a reliable $30,000 fuel cell driven car...a model T for the future. We do not need the fluff of touch screens, mag wheels, and windows you can see out, but no body can see in! Build it, and we will ride along
Roberta Ross (New York)
I disagree with the premise. I do not believe any average citizen views Biden as an “Everyman” He is a wealthy political insider who has self-dealed his way to fortune. Nobody buys this “I’m a regula guy” attempt.
A. (NJ)
Further proof, as though any were needed, that this issue remains a mystery to the left. Donald Trump is an out-of-touch elite who knows nothing about the common person, and yet. Joe Biden could be a former lumberjack who eats cars for breakfast and it wouldn't move the needle. No one actually cares about the faux populism of macho pursuits more than they care about politics, and Biden has no hope there.
Minn Veggie (Minn)
I hope the headline here entices some Republicans to read the entire article. If they do, they might just vote for a Dem!
manfred marcus (Bolivia)
Nice show Mr. President. And who doesn't like cars, dependent as we are on them, especially a 'Corvette', flashy showy yet unavailable to most of us. What may be needed is a plan to be more flashy in communicating your achievements, which are significant...and the public being misinformed about, by a republican cadre ready and willing to distort reality and minimize societal gains...for their own. And nothing more effective that being surrounded by experts more capable than ourselves. Therefore, 'if you've got...display it'!
scott (California)
Many Presidents golf. Biden should book a track on some days off and run some hot laps. It'd be good for him, the 'Vette and his image. Fairly safe too.
Craig (California)
He should stop breaking out in that little jog, makes him look even more frail. At least he dropped using the word malarky.
mike (San Francisco)
... Forget it.. It's will take a lot more than sitting in the seat of a Ford Mustang.
LIChef (East Coast)
Cars are a great way for Americans to come together without divisive politics. The unfortunate part is that the Trumpers — with the usual chips on their shoulders — often need to arrive at automotive events flaunting their flags, bumper stickers, T-shirts and accompanying racism while everyone else puts their political views aside to just talk about cars and have a good time.
Kate B (Oregón)
Wow- he’s reduced to hoping how he drives will sway people? That’s pitiful. Although it fits with the concerns that he’s lost most of whatever frontal cortex function he may once have possessed. I’d doubt he can pass the written portion of any driving test. Meanwhile he seems to think that the student loan debt write off (another fiscal disaster that will raise our national debt) was “passed by one or two votes.” Come on - Joe and Dianne Feinstein should be sitting in a safe fancy senior center somewhere, enjoying the autumn sun. There are people their age with full mental capacity- those two aren’t in that category.
Sandra (Ohio)
@Kate B At one point Clinton played a sax on Arsenio's show. I thought he was doomed. Obviously, I was wrong. Now, Hillary on the other hand was a lost cause from the jump.
Latest
See also