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Former Vice President Joe Biden is reportedly planning to use the coronavirus crisis to challenge President Trump on the economy.
The campaign for the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee will apparently continue the narrative that Trump mishandled the pandemic response and will point to the economic toll decisions have taken on the nation. This will presumably be countered with the argument that Biden is the next leader Americans need to begin the road to recovery.
“No one thinks the economy is in a good place right now,” a pro-Biden Democratic strategist said, according to The Hill. “Trump got us here. And Biden can make the case that he’s the one who can lead us out of here.”
But Republicans note that Biden’s focus on the economy in an attempt to make Trump look bad is “risky” and could backfire on him.
“I think it’s risky for Biden to make the economy central to his campaign,” Republican strategist Matt Mackowiak said. “The economy will bounce back in [the third quarter] and by then many people may believe the American comeback is on the right course.”
But Biden was already on the issue during a CNBC interview last week.
“The way to fix the economy is to get the public health response correct,” he said, referring to the handling of the coronavirus outbreak.
“His slowness is costing lives and costing jobs and costing our ability to rebound,” he added, as he discussed taxes and took on the president’s response.
Former Obama official Kenneth Baer saw the economy as a key issue for Biden to get behind in his ongoing challenge to Trump.
“The real challenge will be to keep making the case that Trump spent his years in office helping himself and the wealthy, and when the pandemic hit, Trump tanked the economy in absolute terms,” the senior adviser in the Obama White House’s Office of Management and Budget said.
“Come the fall, the economy will be adding jobs and growing at potentially record rates, and Trump will argue that in relative terms, he’s winning even though the economy will still be in dire straits. That is, he will say, ‘Look, we cut unemployment in half.’ We need to say, ‘Yes, but it’s still at 15 percent,’ ” Baer added.
“We have seen four years of having a self-described businessman in the Oval Office, and I think a majority of voters will welcome a candidate, like Joe Biden, who actually knows how to run government competently and ethically,” he said.
A recent Fox News poll showed Trump had a slim 3-point lead on Biden when those surveyed were questioned about who they thought would better handle the economy. But those voters also indicated they would trust Biden to do a better job on health care, coronavirus and relations with China. The survey also showed that 78 percent of participants thought the economy was in bad shape.
To all of the pollsters out there, your numbers are even more inaccurate then they were in 2016. Many @realDonaldTrump supporters remain silent upon fear of retribution from the “tolerant” left.
— Forgotten American (@slugger44_tracy) May 26, 2020
“I think he continues to make the case that had he been in charge he would have taken the virus seriously from the start, preventing the confusion and disjointed response we’ve seen from Trump leading to the economic crisis we are in now,” a Biden ally who is in touch with the campaign told The Hill.
But not everyone in Democratic circles agrees that attacking Trump on the economy would be wise.
A domestic policy adviser in former President Clinton’s White House cautioned against the move and suggested the former vice president should focus, instead, on leadership.
“In my judgment, Biden would be ill-advised to attack Trump’s economic performance during his three years in office,” William Galston, a senior fellow of governance studies, told The Hill.
“There are lots of negative things one could say, but the people have made up their minds: Trump did better on the economy than in any other area, and it worked pretty well. Even now, they continue to give him high marks,” he said.
“He should argue that the economy won’t return to full health unless and until Americans have good reason to believe that it’s safe to go back to work and to enter shops, restaurants and theaters,” Galston added. “And then he should pose a killer question: Based on what you’ve seen since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, do you think President Trump is the right person to lead us out of this mess?”
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