It was inevitable, after the coronavirus outbreak spread to the United States, that the Democrats would call on President Trump to cancel his public campaign rallies. Putting an end to them has been a longtime goal of their party. Knowing that these events increase GOP enthusiasm, while drawing large numbers of Independents and even rank-and-file Democrats, party leaders have produced countless pretexts for demanding that Trump put a halt to them. After the 2017 violence in Charlottesville, they claimed the rallies served as breeding grounds for racism. Following the 2019 El Paso shooting they insisted that the events somehow encouraged gun violence.
No one beyond the Beltway took these ridiculous claims seriously. Trump and his supporters studiously ignored them, and the rallies continued apace. Finally, when the Democrats were on the verge of despair, COVID-19 came along and provided them with a plausible reason to demand an end to the rallies. At first, however, they demanded that the president cancel his campaign events without reference to the continuing campaign rallies scheduled by former Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. Only after the conclusion of the Democratic primaries scheduled for early March did they include all candidates:
Until we know the extent of the community spread of the coronavirus, I call on ALL candidates for President to stop holding public rallies & large scale events. The CDC has been absolutely clear, people should not congregate in large groups. The candidates must lead by example!
This cri de coeur came from Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) last Monday, one day after she accused President Trump of plotting to spread COVID-19 among his own supporters without mentioning the ongoing campaign events that were being held by Sanders and Biden. Speier has an affinity for false accusations. Last year she nominated Christine Blasey Ford for the JFK Profile in Courage Award. Blasey Ford’s act of “courage” was to accuse SCOTUS nominee Brett Kavanaugh — without evidence or corroboration — of sexually assaulting her 36 years prior to his nomination. It may be that Speier isn’t Trump’s most credible source of advice.
Nonetheless, the president’s would-be successors announced Tuesday that they would heed her counsel. Sanders will cancel some events, and Biden’s campaign has announced that he will follow suit. It isn’t clear that the latter was drawing enough people to his events to pose much of a public health risk. Still, he will rely on virtual rallies. This is a major break for Biden, whose cognitive decline is becoming ever more obvious. He now has an excuse to remain out of the public eye while his staff runs his campaign and improvises programs. They rolled out a plan Thursday to deal with COVID-19 that Biden introduced from Wilmington, Delaware:
We will lead by science.… Downplaying it, being overly dismissive, or spreading misinformation is only going to hurt us and further advantage the spread of the disease.… But neither should we panic, or fall back on xenophobia. Labeling COVID-19 a foreign virus does not displace accountability for the misjudgments that have been taken thus far by the Trump administration.
Biden didn’t devote any time during Thursday’s oration to his last pandemic involving the H1N1 virus. H1N1 appeared in the U.S. in April of 2009. The “Obama–Biden” administration, as the candidate styles it, took six months to declare a national emergency. By then, millions of Americans had been infected and more than 1,000 had died. How does that compare to what Biden calls the “colossal failure” of President Trump’s reaction to coronavirus? The World Health Organization learned of what became known as COVID-19 on December 30, 2019. Trump’s emergency declaration was issued 32 days later, on January 31, 2020.
Much of Biden’s proposal, the Wall Street Journal reports, consists of steps President Trump has already taken and which he laid out in his Wednesday evening address to the nation. These include paid leave, payroll-tax relief, low-interest loans to small businesses, etc. Indeed, the primary difference between the two is that Biden reverts to tired talking points about Trump himself, restoring Obama–Biden bureaucracies that he eliminated, commitments to reverse his public charge rule, providing free services to illegal immigrants, etc. Trump focuses on pragmatic steps that address the problem at hand and his confidence in our ability to handle it:
No nation is more prepared or more resilient than the United States. We have the best economy, the most advanced health care, and the most talented doctors, scientists, and researchers anywhere in the world.… We must put politics aside, stop the partisanship, and unify together as one nation and one family.… Americans always rise to the challenge and overcome adversity.
This message is, not coincidentally, similar in substance and tone to Trump’s rally speeches. This is why the Democrats, especially Joe Biden and his handlers, have worked so diligently to stop his rallies. The Democrats have no candidate with the energy and optimism that Trump radiates, their policies amount to little more than brittle retreads of past failures, and they regard the voters with contempt. There’s a reason Biden’s only coherent utterances involve insulting some voter. He and the rest of the Democrats fear the voters and loathe Trump. They clearly hope that COVID-19 will keep the two apart until November.