On Politics: What Does This All Mean for November?

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  • Could the coronavirus provide ammunition to Democrats seeking to take down President Trump? Possibly. It could be easy, if he is seen as badly bungling the response. But he has another thing in mind.

  • After first ignoring warnings about the severity of the crisis and offering a series of conflicting messages, the president is working to project a strong and serious aspect as he confronts what he now acknowledges is a monumental public health emergency.

  • Democrats came out of the gate promising relief, but the bill they passed — which the president signed this week — looks pale compared to the proposal now being floated by Trump and his Republican allies. They want to send a $1,200 cash payment to all Americans making up to $75,000 a year, as well as offering business loans and large corporate tax cuts.

  • Many economists say that with unemployment expected to rise as high as 20 percent, even this level of intervention won’t be sufficient to turn back an economic crash. But so far, congressional Democrats are not yet pushing their Republicans to go significantly further than they already have. It has been conservatives like Mitt Romney and Tom Cotton, not leading Democrats, who have loudly called for the government to put cash in Americans’ hands.

  • Still, in his messages to core supporters, Trump has hardly spoken about the virus at all. He has mentioned it only in one fund-raising email and text message (a week ago, linking to C.D.C. guidance), instead sticking to his typical strategy of attacking Democrats and the media. Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, meanwhile, have repeatedly discussed the virus in messages to supporters.

  • Trump has historically been great at raising money online — and besides, polling shows that Republicans are overwhelmingly likely to say they think the threat of the coronavirus has been overblown by the media. Josh Holmes, a top Republican strategist, told our reporter Shane Goldmacher that by avoiding mentioning the virus, Trump’s team appears to be taking an “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it” approach to messaging.

  • Democratic super PACs are still running ads targeting Trump for his attacks on the Affordable Care Act. And one has already bought $5 million in airtime devoted to ads about his response to the coronavirus crisis.

  • Tulsi Gabbard dropped out of the Democratic presidential race on Thursday and endorsed Biden, officially leaving Sanders as the last hopeful standing in Biden’s way. “Although I may not agree with the vice president on every issue, I know that he has a good heart and is motivated by his love for our country and the American people,” Gabbard, a congresswoman from Hawaii, wrote in a campaign email. “I’m confident that he will lead our country guided by the spirit of aloha — respect and compassion — and thus help heal the divisiveness that has been tearing our country apart.”

President Trump held a news conference with the White House coronavirus task force on Thursday.


As someone who has covered climate change, I’ve long been interested in the intersection of the political and the personal. So I was hoping to find someone who could help me show what that intersection looks like in the time of the coronavirus, when the early dismissiveness of conservative politicians and pundits may well have put a large number of lives at risk.

I found Heaven Frilot’s story through a mutual friend on Facebook. On March 14, she posted that her husband, Mark, had tested positive for the virus — something she felt compelled to share, she wrote, after “seeing a lot of posts about people taking this virus lightly and joking about it.”

In the conservative suburbs of New Orleans, many understood the coronavirus through the lens of Fox News or Rush Limbaugh. On social media, they wrote off the virus as part of a Democratic plot to take down the president. Then someone they knew contracted it, someone who wasn’t supposed to contract it (Mark is 45 years old and otherwise healthy), and perspectives began to change.

Heaven was gracious enough to open up about her husband’s illness and how she has seen her community’s perspective on the virus change completely — all as Mark continues to breathe through a ventilator, quarantined in the I.C.U.

Biden publicly committed this week to choosing a woman as his running mate. So — assuming he avoids an unlikely Sanders surge and sews up the Democratic nomination — who will it be?

Reid J. Epstein and my newsletter-writing colleague Lisa Lerer interviewed 60 Democratic National Committee members and party leaders on a hunt for clues. As they reported in an article for today’s paper, the most frequently floated names are Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren — all senators and all former presidential hopefuls. Stacey Abrams, the former minority leader of the Georgia State House, also came up a lot.

Here are responses that Reid and Lisa got from two Democratic superdelegates but weren’t able to fit into their article. One is a high schooler and another is a Sanders supporter — both uncommon demographics among the ranks of Democratic superdelegates.

Jack Greenspan, the chair of High School Democrats of America, said, “If I were the Biden campaign, I would pick Stacey Abrams in a heartbeat.” Calling her “unquestionably an intelligent leader and an excellent politician,” Greenspan cited her “plethora of knowledge about engaging communities of color, while at the same time appealing to less diverse suburban and rural voters. Abrams was within a hair’s length of becoming governor in 2018 because she was effective at engaging a diverse coalition of communities. A Biden/Abrams ticket can finish what Abrams started in Georgia.”

Larry Cohen, a former union president and chairman of Our Revolution, said he had yet to settle on a choice but believed there were “many amazing women” to choose from. He added, “The candidate, in addition to gender, needs to provide issue balance, so Bernie might have an opinion.”

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