Presidential candidates are facing an array of challenges in terms of their usual campaign routines as COVID-19 continues to spread across the US. Campaigning is on hold, national party conventions are looking unlikely, and life as the Americans know it is changing significantly. There is little modern precedent for campaigning against a backdrop of such widespread national fear, making it a tricky feat for any candidate to have a definite answer as to what the future holds.
As a result of the current conditions due to the coronavirus, the 2020 election is shaping up to be the first virtual campaign trail in our country’s history.
The nature of campaigning has profoundly changed as the virus has continued to spread, affecting millions of Americans. The outbreak has thrust conversation toward public health and an evident economic downturn — hot topics that encompass the worries and fears of Americans across the country.
“This is the question that is going to dominate the election: How did you perform in the great crisis?” said Representative Tom Cole, Republican of Oklahoma at a recent press conference.
The current 2020 candidates are quickly integrating these issues into their campaign platforms in hopes of giving Americans answers as to how they would combat the virus.
President Donald Trump
Sensing the opportunity of a fearful population, Trump has sought to portray himself as a wartime leader in the public eye in hopes of raising his approval rating. This tactic has given him a slight bump in the pools, with his approval ratings slowly creeping toward 50% as some registered Independents and Democrats rally behind him.
The President continued to boast his goal of reopening the country by Easter weekend — an unlikely goal in the eye of experts — until earlier this week when he extended the national social distancing guidelines until April 30.
Former Vice President Joe Biden
Though he’s leading the Democratic primary delegate count, Joe Biden has recently been keeping a low-profile, worrying many Democrats who feel President Trump needs to be challenged more vigorously if the Democratic Party hopes to defeat him this coming November.
Biden has released a plan to address the coronavirus, calling for widespread and free testing, boosting federal resources and creating a “state and local emergency fund.” He has also emphasized the need to eliminate the cost barriers to preventative care, treatment and eventual vaccine.
“I offer this plan as a roadmap, not for what I will do as president ten months from now, but for the leadership I believe is required right now, at this moment,” he said in a recent speech that was streamed live from his home in Delaware. He had also criticized President Trump’s response to the virus, stating that his strategies to tackle the issue are too slow and insufficient, pressuring him to act like the “wartime president” he says he is.
Senator Bernie Sanders
Sanders’ campaign has integrated the pandemic as part of his “healthcare for all” stance, arguing that all healthcare services related to the disease — vaccine included — should be free to all.
“It is an absolute moral imperative that our response — as a government, as a society, as business communities, and as individuals — meets the enormity of this crisis,” he addressed in a recent press interview.
He, too, took a jab at the Trump administration’s response to the crisis, stating that “the current administration is largely incompetent, and its incompetence and recklessness has threatened the lives of many people.”
Sanders continues to advocate for a government takeover of healthcare, calling for emergency funding for paid family and medical leave, boosting testing capabilities, expanding community health centers and primary healthcare capabilities to combat the ongoing pandemic.