Biden, an expert retail politician, becomes a master of social distancing.

TAMPA, Fla. — As Joseph R. Biden Jr. has resumed campaigning in key battlegrounds, his visits have acquired a distinctly stealthy quality. This can be jarring for a candidate whose zeal for face-to-face campaigning, wading into crowds and lingering on rope lines is well known.

“There is no more of a shake-your-hand, pat-you-on-the-back kind of guy than Joe Biden,” said Rick Bloomingdale, the president of the Pennsylvania A.F.L.-C.I.O., who joined Mr. Biden during a Labor Day visit to Harrisburg, Pa. “This has to be killing him.”

Mr. Biden is campaigning on the point that his dedication to staying away from his supporters is proof he cares about them — and that President Trump’s insistence on holding rallies shows he cares only about himself. “The folks who come are packed in tight as they can be, risking disease, mostly without masks,” Mr. Biden said of Mr. Trump’s rallies during an appearance of his own on Monday at an aluminum manufacturing facility in Manitowoc, Wis. “But not Trump. He safely keeps his distance.”

Still, Mr. Biden’s minimal footprint on the ground tends to stoke anxiety among Democrats that their vehicle for defeating the president has a deficit in effort and enthusiasm, especially compared with an opponent whose big-splash approach (boat flotillas, fully resumed campaign events) is anything but reluctant.

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