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What a difference a couple of weeks and a new running mate can make.

Early this month, Joe Biden’s opponents used a series of doctored photographs to produce an ad making it appear that the former vice president was holed up in his basement, wringing his hands and seemingly unable to do anything but stare vacantly at “Matlock” reruns.

But the Trump camp apparently decided that “Sleepy Joe” got woke. Suddenly, the man formerly portrayed as a frail, addled underachiever was tweeted out for seeking to do away with prisons, bail, police, immigration enforcement, suburbs, statues and America’s heroes while plotting to remove Bibles, guns, God, religion, windows and high-flow toilets from American homes.

As soon as California Sen. Kamala Harris was picked as Biden’s running mate, the Birther clown car was rolled out of its storage unit and began making the rounds of right-leaning talking heads, with its crew suggesting that having immigrant parents made Harris unqualified to serve as vice president. Somehow, this vetting flaw must have slipped past opponents and election regulators when she served in the U.S. Senate, as California’s attorney general and San Francisco’s District Attorney.

Last week, Vice President Mike Pence tried to take Harris down a notch or two by talking tough to a farm group in Iowa about his rival once looking into having meat removed from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s food pyramid.

“I’ve got some red meat for you,” Pence told the farmers. “We’re not going to let Joe Biden and Kamala Harris cut America’s meat.”

That remark created a stir in the Twitterverse, but I feel certain neither Biden nor Harris wants anything to do with Trump supporters’ meat.

When Pence campaigns in the swing state of Wisconsin, he may want to re-think using a similar line — especially if he’s addressing the Wisconsin Cheese Producers Association.

Reach Rick Steelhammer at, 304-348-5169 or follow @rsteelhammer on Twitter.