There’s something that feels a bit off-kilter about the Joe Biden campaign—certain things that don’t quite align with how the other Democratic Presidential operations go about their business.

But is Biden running an unorthodox campaign for the modern age, or is he the normal one, amid others flailing to change for change’s sake?

Or, he could be this cycle’s Rudy Giuliani.

The comparison is tempting. Giuliani, at this point in the 2008 Presidential race, easily led a crowded Republican field (OK, not as crowded) with around 30 percent support. His favorability among Republican voters was just as sky-high as Biden’s is among Democrats now—and, as with Biden now, significant cross-party appeal fed a popular perception of electability.

Both held such high public status, in large part, by virtue of their prolonged absence from the elected office.
Giuliani had been out of office for five years when he launched his Presidential campaign in late 2006; for most Americans, his image was frozen as the heroic “America’s Mayor” of the 9/11 attack on New York City. Biden’s time on the sidelines was shorter, but since 2009 he has been seen mainly as Barack Obama’s sidekick.

Biden’s first return to Iowa will be June 11—two days after the Iowa Democratic Party’s Hall of Fame Dinner in Cedar Rapids, where 17 candidates are scheduled to speak. They should mostly be cleared out by the time Biden arrives Tuesday. But someone else will be in the first caucus state: Donald Trump, who is scheduled to attend a Republican fundraiser in West Des Moines.

On social media, Biden strictly adheres to old-fashioned ‘message of the day’ discipline. He and his team don’t react to news cycles there, as many of the other candidates do.

This week, for example, the Biden message was his education policy, released Tuesday in concert with a speech to the American Federation of Teachers. Over the course of the day, many other Presidential candidates Tweeted about the news that the last abortion provider in Missouri might soon close—but not Biden. Likewise, after Bob Mueller spoke publicly Wednesday morning, Biden issued a press release but was one of only four in the large field who did not Tweet about it.

The campaign launched a Team Joe Twitter account on May 18th, the day of Biden’s much-hyped Philadelphia rally. After an introductory tweet, that account retweeted 13 tweets from the main Biden account that day. It has tweeted three times since: a link to Biden LGBT Pride merchandise, a Memorial Day message, and another retweet from the main account.

A review of 30 top staffers’ Twitter accounts, including 13 in communications roles, for the past seven days shows just 376 total tweets, including retweets and replies. Roughly a third were simply retweets from the main Biden account or other top campaign staff and advisors. Of the rest—mostly retweets of a small number of news items—about a quarter referenced the education proposal. Another quarter concerned the Biden-Trump “feud” instigated by Trump in a tweet from Japan, but eagerly perpetuated by the campaign. Another quarter promoted the campaign, primarily circulating a handful of schedule notices, endorsements, and favorable articles.

Barely 50 tweets, in total, expressed any personal or political message, photo, or topic off of the campaign’s primary messages. A dozen of those 30 staffers work in the four early-voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada, but only three of their tweets during those seven days reflected that.

If any of those 30 staffers had thoughts about the developments concerning reproductive rights, or Congress failing to pass the disaster-relief bill—or the Raptors-Bucks series, or the new Aladdin movie—they did not share any of those with their Twitter followers.

All of that might seem like obvious message discipline to many, or most, seasoned campaign veterans.
But it stands in marked contrast with some of the cacophonous social media activity of other campaigns, many of which are joyous sources of candidate information, pictures of fellow staffers, humorous memes, and pet photos. (You can follow a list of campaign staffers’ twitter accounts at this link.)