Pandemic politics: Pro-Biden ad slams Trump coronavirus response, campaign returns fire

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A top pro-Joe Biden super PAC is going up with a new TV commercial in key battleground states that charges that “Donald Trump is failing America” over the coronavirus pandemic.

The latest jab from Democrats backing the former vice president comes as President Trump has repeatedly touted that he and his administration have done “an amazing job” in taking on the outbreak.

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The announcer in the spot by Priorities USA accuses the president of “downplaying the threat. Ignoring the experts. Refusing to prepare,” when it comes to the federal government’s response to the global outbreak of the virus that causes the deadly COVID-19 disease.

The super PAC said their new 30-second spot will run on broadcast and cable TV in the battleground states of Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, as part of their $65 million ad buy through the November general election.

“Donald Trump said he would put America first. And now he has. The United States leads the world in coronavirus cases. More than 50,000 Americans dead. Twice as many deaths as any other country. Over 26 million people have lost their jobs and it's only getting worse,” the narrator says in the commercial.

The ad is the latest from a bunch of outside groups supporting the presumptive Democratic nominee that slam Trump for initially downplaying the severity of the pandemic and criticizing the president for how he’s handled Washington’s efforts to combat the coronavirus crisis.

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The Biden campaign and the candidate himself have also repeatedly taken aim at Trump, saying in March that for “the first two months of this crisis, President Trump used his public statements to falsely tell us we had nothing to worry about. … Now he’s switched to falsely telling us that he’s taking action he has not taken, promising results he’s not delivered and announcing actions that he not even ordered.”

Trump’s reelection campaign has pushed back against the attacks, accusing Biden and his allies of trying to politicize the coronavirus crisis.

"By preying upon Americans’ fear amid the coronavirus outbreak, Biden isn’t just playing cheap politics. He’s making the crisis worse. It’s dangerous,” the Trump campaign said last month.

The president, in defending his record, has repeatedly pointed to his ban on non-U.S. citizens from flying from China to the U.S., which was implemented on Feb. 2.

“I stopped people from China very early — very, very early — from coming into our country,” the president spotlighted on April 4.

A week later, at a White House briefing on the coronavirus, Trump once again praised his administration’s actions, declaring that “everything we did was right” as he slammed media reports that his administration had failed to adequately ramp up testing and production of medical supplies to those on the front lines fighting the outbreak.

Last week – making the same case – the president emphasized that “we did the right thing.  So far, we did the right thing.  So far, we’ve called it right. We’ve mobilized like it was a military operation.”

“We’ve done a good job. We’ve gotten very little credit for the great job we’ve done because of the media. Because the media is not an honest media, in my opinion. Much of it, not all of it,” Trump added.

In responding to the new commercial by Priorities USA, Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh told Fox News “the ad implicitly takes China’s word about its death totals, which tells you all you need to know. Joe Biden’s allies will side with China and swallow its communist propaganda if it gives them a way to attack the President of the United States.”

China, where the outbreak originated, has defended its official death toll amid international skepticism that it lowballed the number of those infected and killed by the pandemic.

After initially praising China for its handling of the coronavirus pandemic, the president the past six weeks has taken a much harder stand against Beijing. The Trump campaign and allies are making a push to paint Biden as soft on China, with the Biden campaign and allies returning fire by spotlighting the president’s initial praising of Beijing.

Wayne Lesperance, a veteran political scientist, said it’s no surprise that the pandemic’s been dragged into the political firefight of the presidential campaign.

“The politicization of the coronavirus was not only unavoidable, it was appropriate,” Lesperance said. “As President Trump noted early on, he is now a wartime President fighting against an adversary that is on track to claim as many lives as during the entirety of the Vietnam War.”

Lesperance, who is the vice president of academic affairs at New England College, noted that “to see Vice President Biden and the President's other political adversaries use their political platforms to criticize the President's diminishing of the threat, slowness to respond, and, at times, tone deaf briefings, is not surprising. After all, the president of the United States has a tremendous responsibility in supporting the security and well-being of our fellow citizens."