Skip to Content

Coronavirus changes everything

Coronavirus — and the battle to contain it — continues to dominate, well, everything. To that end, this weekly look at the big stories in the 2020 race is really a look at coronavirus, and how the likes of President Donald Trump, Joe Biden and other elected officials are handling it. Rather than the typical five storylines to watch, I’ve narrowed it to three — and sought to provide a bit more context and analysis for each.

3. The rise of the governors: Prior to Trump and Barack Obama, the ranks of governors was where the country tended to look for their next national leaders. The coronavirus pandemic may, in an odd way, mark a return to that way of picking presidents.

Governors are absolutely on the front lines of this crisis, making decisions about social distancing and quarantine policies, attempting to acquire needed masks and other gear for frontline healthcare workers and being the public face of the crisis for their constituents.

Now, that elevated profile doesn’t necessarily translate to a national bid down the road. Govs. Andrew Cuomo (D-New York) and Mike DeWine (R-Ohio) have been two of the most capable leaders in this crisis, and it’s not clear either one would (or could) run for president.

But for people like Michigan’s Gretchen Whitmer, California’s Gavin Newsom, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee , this moment could be a catalyst for future (higher) office.

The opposite is also true, of course. Fail to step up in a moment as big as this one and you may see you star shine so bright again. Case in point: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is facing increasingly loud criticism for his decision not to order people off the state’s beaches far earlier. “Coronavirus is killing us in Florida, Gov. DeSantis. Act like you give a damn,” read the headline of a piece posted Sunday by the Miami Herald editorial board.

Watch what governors do — and don’t do — over this week (and next). It could be the defining moment of their political lives.

2. Biden looks for a way in: The coronavirus smashed into America just as former vice president Joe Biden was beginning to dominate the Democratic race and sew up the nomination.

After his three-state sweep last Tuesday, Biden is the de facto nominee, but is struggling to find a way into the daily coronavirus conversation. He’s not currently in office, after all, and has very little power to effect change in how the government — whether federal or state — are reacting to all of this.

As a result, he’s been a bit of an invisible man over the last 10 days, holed up at his home in Wilmington, Delaware — trying to do some virtual town halls but generally speaking laying low.

That all could change as soon as Monday. Biden, according to Politico, is planning to hold his own coronavirus briefings with experts as he seeks to show the public how a President Biden might react to all of this.

How that will be received by the public remains very much up in the air. Some will undoubtedly criticize Biden for offering up a parallel track of guidance and leadership thereby muddling the message people need to hear. Others will likely find Biden a more comforting presence at a podium in a crisis than the often-erratic Trump.

It’s a risk Biden appears to be willing to take. He knows he can’t disappear for a month in the midst of a generational crisis, ceding the entire national stage to the man he wants to replace.

1. The Trump presidency rests on these next weeks: If you thought the battle over whether or not to impeach Trump would be the defining moment of the President’s first term in office (as we all did), well, things have changed.

This coronavirus fight is now the thing that very likely will make or break Trump’s chances at a second term this November. And it’s really a series of fights: There’s the obvious physical health one but there’s also a massive economic fight, a mental health battle and a leadership test all wrapped in there too.

The returns are, so far, mixed. In an ABC-Ipsos poll released last Friday, 55% said that they approved of how Trump was dealing with the crisis as compared to 43% who disapproved. But an NPR poll showed that 6 in 10 Americans don’t trust what they are hearing on the coronavirus pandemic from Trump.

Trump, in daily press briefings, has struggled to stick to facts — about potential medicines to deal with the virus, about the timeline of a vaccine, about how to deal with the mask shortage in the country, about the very slow start to testing for the virus in the country. He’s also reverted back to his “attack the media” approach.

None of that may matter, of course, if his administration is able to effectively deal with the virus — limiting cases and deaths — by protecting health care workers and ensuring that hospitals are not overrun. And by keeping the economy solvent, which depends heavily on an expected economic stimulus deal coming out of Congress as soon as tomorrow.

On all of this, Trump will be judged come November.

Article Topic Follows: Politics

Jump to comments ↓

Author Profile Photo



KVIA ABC 7 is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content