The Joe Biden who became the 46th president on Wednesday isn't the same blabbermouth who failed in 1988 and 2008.
Why it matters: Biden now heeds guidance about staying on task with speeches and no longer worries a gaffe or two will cost him an election. His staff also limits the places where he speaks freely and off the cuff. This Biden protective bubble will only tighten in the months ahead, aides tell Axios.
One prominent Democrat says the lingering question is can a nearly 80-year-old person "process" multiple major issues like the pandemic, a sagging economy, an ascendant China and pesky Russia?
The acid test, this Democrat said on the condition of anonymity, was whether Biden could ace a Rose Garden news conference.
- His Dec. 22 press conference in Wilmington, Delaware, suggested he could pull it off, if prepped and rested.
- Biden opened up with about 14 minutes of remarks read from a massive teleprompter. But then he closed his book and faced nearly 20 questions, gaffe-free and with several clever turns of phrase.
What to watch: The Biden White House will use the cover of coronavirus precautions to greatly curtail his freelance moments and access to him. Truth is, he’s a 78-year-old, high-risk American, so it isn't just good politics but good policy.