Sunday, April 12, 2020

Last Call For The China Syndrome

If Donald Trump is able to convince voters that China is somehow responsible for Trump's dismal performance directing the "federal response" to COVID-19 and connect Joe Biden to it, he wins reelection running away.

President Donald Trump and his allies are leaning heavily into a new 2020 strategy tying Democrats and their presumptive presidential nominee Joe Biden not just to China but to its role in spreading the coronavirus.

Democrats are increasingly worried that the strategy will work.

The Trump re-election campaign released a new ad this week going after Biden over his opposition to restrictions on travel from China designed to control the spread of the coronavirus outbreak. That was followed with a fundraising solicitation on Saturday that hammered home the point: “I am TOUGH ON CHINA and Sleepy Joe Biden is WEAK ON CHINA,” it declared.

Inside the campaign, the strategy is simple: make China the villain of a global pandemic that has complicated well-laid electoral plans and sparked growing criticism of the president.

“[China’s] among many weaknesses, but when people learn about Biden’s attack on the president’s China travel ban, his other weak positions on China, and his conflict with Hunter Biden’s business deal with China, voters are horrified,” John McLaughlin, a Trump pollster, told The Daily Beast on Friday. Other Trump 2020 officials said that the campaign had always intended to hammer Biden on China until the election in November, and the coronavirus “angle” was merely another way to go after the Bidens and China simultaneously.

In one sense it’s simply an extension of Team Trump’s months-long strategy to tie Biden to a country increasingly viewed with suspicion by American voters. The campaign and the Republican National Committee have been hammering Biden for months over his youngest son Hunter’s past business dealings in China.

But the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, which originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan, has made the country a far more potent political villain. And the massive disruptions in daily life caused by the virus virtually guarantee that China will remain in the headlines—and on the minds of American voters—for months as election day approaches. Polls already indicate that Americans of both parties overwhelmingly blame China for the virus’ initial spread.

For a Trump campaign that’s a potential political goldmine. “China was an effective wedge issue for Trump in 2016,” said one Republican strategist close to the campaign. “Now that it’s at the top of everyone’s mind, and Biden has a long record of being weak on China, just imagine how much more effective it will be in 2020.”

It definitely worked in Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Democrats need to be smashing this noise and quickly.   The problem is I'd normally say Joe Biden's Rust Belt retail politics would go a long way, but that's impossible now.  Trump gets 6-12 hours of primetime coverage every week with his "task force briefings" and there no oxygen in the room for Biden or Democratic surrogates.

The question becomes how Biden can compete, and unless Dems come up with an answer soon, Trump is going to get away with this, blame China, and win by 200 electoral votes.

The key here may very well be Biden's old boss.

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