‘Perception can get baked in very quickly. You simply can’t afford to wait…’
(Liberty Headlines) As optimism grows over the possibility of lower-than-projected infection and mortality rates, Democrats who hyped apocalyptic coronavirus projections are wrestling over how best to assail President Donald Trump.
In spite of his opponents’ best effort to pin on him a failed response to the pandemic, which caused a historically high stock-market to plunge last month and forced a shutdown of major sectors of the economy, Trump has continued to maintain—and even gain—public approval.
The Left insists that Trump has provided them with plenty of political fodder, although evidence suggests that they are equally accountable for the surging infections in predominantly blue localities like Washington state, New York, New Jersey, Michigan and parts of Louisiana.
While they have been forced to acknowledge the slow-footed response of prominent party members like New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Democrats are already trying to rewrite the narrative, using reams of video of Trump denying and playing down the crisis.
“Donald Trump does have the biggest bully pulpit. But fortunately for Democrats, Donald Trump has the biggest bully pulpit,” claimed Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wisc.
Yet, seven months from Election Day, Democrats have not matched the attention Trump can command with daily, nationally televised briefings that can exceed two hours.
Trump’s focus has long been on countering the incessant fearmongering propagated by leftist media and other organizations whose agenda has been to drive public sentiment against him, even at the risk of economic turmoil, public angst and extreme suffering.
Many in the press hyped the overreaction to the crisis with projections that millions of Americans could die before ultimately revising the numbers drastically downward based on the actual data.
Nonetheless, the president has done his best to work with the affected areas to supply medical equipment such as ventilators and potentially life-saving medicines that the state leaders had previously scoffed at and failed to adequately supply in preparation of the pandemic. The Obama administration, likewise, depleted the federal stockpile of crucial supplies like face masks.
Democrats are also juggling conflicting instincts: attack Trump aggressively now and risk accusations of using a catastrophe for political reasons, or wait until society starts returning to normal. That might give him time to define himself as a wartime president battling a virus that’s enveloped the globe.
“There has been gross incompetence,” claimed Jim Margolis, a leading Democratic communications consultant. He called it “a huge vulnerability,” for Trump.
“But Democrats must take care not to gratuitously attack the administration or look like they are playing politics with a crisis,” Margolis added.
Several times already they have failed in avoiding that perception. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., first attempted to use the $2-trillion economic stimulus to fulfill a litany of left-wing wish-list items before being shut down by GOP senators.
She the appointed House Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-SC, to lead a newly established oversight committee on the health crisis—despite Clyburn’s having acknowledged in a conference call with hundreds of his Democratic congressional colleagues that he saw the pandemic as an opportunity to leverage against their demands.
Several of the Left’s more unsavory characters, such as Steele Dossier lawyer Marc Elias and former Attorney General Eric Holder, have led the way in calling for the November election to be mail-in only, even though it appears unlikely that the pandemic fears will endure that long.
But others worried, at least publicly, that such efforts may backfire.
“A purely partisan attack is inappropriate for the times we’re in,” said former Rep. Steve Israel, D-N.Y., who once headed House Democrats’ campaign organization.
Former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, has faulted Trump’s response.
“Trump keeps saying he’s a wartime president. Well, start to act like one,” Biden has said.
But he’s avoided the sharpest attacks while trying to dodge criticisms of his own concerning his cognitive decline and a recent rape accusation.
After spending much of the crisis in seclusion and struggling to gain a foothold in the public debate, Biden stunned audiences on The View by insisting, “The cure, that will make the problem worse no matter what.”
Joe Biden went on the View and reminded everyone why he has been in hiding. https://t.co/esMUEkePUu
— thebradfordfile™ (@thebradfordfile) March 24, 2020
Nonetheless, following a Wisconsin primary that Democrats fought tooth-and-nail to delay at the last minute, Biden’s path to the nomination cleared Wednesday when his only remaining Democratic rival, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., dropped out.
As an exasperated Trump has become increasingly impatient with the callous gas-lighting and fearmongering propagated by his critics, some Democrats have attempted to pitch themselves as the more even-keeled alternatives.
“This moment is exactly wrong for President Trump because he can’t distract people from a pandemic with a provocative tweet,” said Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii.
Yet at the same time, Democratic political groups are spending millions on television and online ads around the country that pull few punches.
“Crisis comes to every president. This one failed,” says one spot by Unite the Country, a political committee backing Biden. As red circles dotting a U.S. map ominously expand, the announcer says Trump “let the virus spread unchecked across America.”
“Perception can get baked in very quickly,” said Tara McGowan, who leads PACRONYM, an anti-Trump political committee. “You simply can’t afford to wait.”
Trump has taken note of the frantic desperation as Democrats seek an effective message and party leader while trying to neutralize him.
He tweeted Wednesday that “Radical Left Democrats have gone absolutely crazy” over his daily briefings and boasted of “‘Monday Night Football, Bachelor Finale’ type” ratings.
Republicans contend that Democratic attacks are ineffective, with voters concentrating on keeping their families safe. “People are hungering for official information as opposed to a partisan response,” said GOP pollster Patrick Ruffini.
Still, Democrats’ quandary over finding a messaging balance has fueled countless conversations within the party. More than 100 groups, from the AFL-CIO to Public Citizen, hold thrice-weekly conference calls to share research and strategy, said Leslie Dach, who runs the Protect Our Care Coalition, which hosts the calls along with the Center for American Progress.
“It’s a moment to double down, but we have to do that in a surgical way, not a jackhammer on his head,” said Bradley Beychok, president of American Bridge.
Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press