How original (NOT)🤦🏻♀️ I'll stick with Keep America Great! 🇺🇸❤️🇺🇸 When Joe Biden entered the Democratic presidential race last month, pundits (including me) questioned whether a gaffe-prone 76-year-old symbol of last-century politics could survive in a next-generation campaign. So far, the old guy is proving us wrong. Biden has surged to the top of the Democratic field with a well-designed message and an uncharacteristically disciplined campaign. Admittedly, we’re a month from the first debate and eight months from the first balloting. But polls show him winning the support of about 38% of Democratic voters nationwide and in early primary states, well ahead of his nearest rival, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. The former vice president’s kickoff speech in Philadelphia last weekend showed why. It was vintage Biden: folksy, garrulous, at once conciliatory and combative — and focused almost entirely on defeating President Trump. “You want to know what the first and most important plank in my climate proposal is?” he said. “Beat Trump.” With that as his refrain, Biden is putting himself squarely where Democratic voters are. Polls show that most Democrats yearn for a candidate — any candidate — who can credibly promise to unseat the president. Virtues like “has new ideas” and “represents a new generation” rank much lower. “It’s smart positioning,” Tad Devine, a veteran Democratic strategist who isn’t working for any of the 2020 candidates, told me. “Biden’s a guy they know. They can see him beating Trump. And that’s what matters most.” There’s a second part to Biden’s message: He promises to undo the angry polarization of the Trump era and restore civility and bipartisanship to American politics. (He doesn’t specify how.) “I know some of the really smart folks say Democrats don’t want to hear about unity,” he said in Philadelphia. “They say Democrats are so angry that the angrier a candidate can be, the better chance he or she has to win the Democratic nomination. Well, I don’t believe it.” “If the American people want a president to add to our division, lead with a clenched fist … [and] spew hatred, they don't need me,” he added.