In recent days, he has sought to link the economic fallout from COVID-19, from record unemployment to the closure of businesses and schools, directly to Trump.
“We believe and continue to believe this is a winning argument for our campaign,” Stef Feldman, Biden’s policy director, said in an interview.
The effort was aided this week by Watergate reporter Bob Woodward, who posted the audio of Trump’s interviews earlier this year, acknowledging that he downplayed the severity of the pandemic to avoid panicking the country.
History has helped push Trump’s pandemic response back to the center of the news cycle, even as wildfires raged in the West.
Biden’s campaign wants voters to have the coronavirus in mind when they vote in November because they believe it is getting deep into so many issues that people care about.
“The virus is not just a health issue. It has to do with all the economic problems, from unemployment to child care and education, ”said another Biden ally close to the campaign. When [Trump] says’ The economy is great ‘we have to shout’ No it sure is not. Look around you. It impacts every part of our lives. ”
In terms of electoral politics, that should only mean one thing: “Checkmate,” the ally said.
Trump has put the economy at the heart of his re-election campaign, saying it has reached historic highs under his administration. He urged voters to remember how strong the economy was before the coronavirus, which he has repeatedly blamed on China.
“We just broke a job record, an all-time record,” he told the Republican National Convention last month. “There has never been three months when we put more people to work. We are on the verge of breaking the historic stock market record.
But in recent speeches and interviews, Biden has repeatedly referred to the pandemic to highlight Trump’s lack of leadership on the economy, especially in battlefield states.
He blames Trump for not taking the initial outbreak seriously and then taking action as the disease spreads from state to state without proper testing and medical supplies.
At the same time, the campaign also launched a $ 44 million ad buy in key battlefield states to highlight Trump’s inadequate response to the pandemic.
“To fix the economy, we have to take control of the virus,” Biden says in one place.
Biden’s campaign also sought to remind voters of the former vice president’s work on the economy.
In key states like Michigan, the campaign highlighted Biden’s involvement in helping the auto industry in 2009, which helped boost the state’s economy.
Biden has also repeatedly discussed prioritizing security and listening to scientists, saying it will help economic recovery.
“I would be prepared to do whatever it takes to save lives,” Biden said in an ABC News interview late last month. “We cannot move the country until we control the virus.”
Democratic strategist Kenneth Baer, who served as a senior adviser in the Obama White House’s Office of Management and Budget, said Biden should keep hitting Trump over economic issues related to the coronavirus because it works.
“It’s about connecting how Trump’s failures as a leader have materially affected people’s lives,” Baer said.
Biden’s campaign sees evidence that his efforts are influencing voters.
A CNN poll earlier this month showed Trump had a slight edge over Biden – 49% to 48% – on the economy. This was the stark difference from a previous CNN poll which showed Trump was leading Biden from 53% to 45%.
Another survey from CBS News and YouGov, had Biden behind Trump by one point, 45% to 44%. And a Quinnipiac University poll conducted late last month showed the two candidates were tied at 48%.
Some swing states offer good points for Trump.
An NBC News-Marist poll in Pennsylvania showed Trump had a big lead – 51% to 41% – on the economy. In Florida, the same survey shows Trump overtakes Biden by 53-40% on money matters.
“Joe Biden has been a chair quarterback throughout the entire coronavirus response, floating ‘ideas’ that turn out to be actions President Trump has already taken,” said Samantha Zager, deputy national press secretary for the Trump campaign. “Biden has nothing to offer Americans other than bad politics and opposition to President Trump, which is why he is desperately arguing for another shutdown as the President succeeds in rebuilding our economy.”
Biden aides express confidence voters will see Trump as having mismanaged the pandemic.
“If he had listened to the scientists and taken action, we wouldn’t be in the economic situation we are in now,” Feldman said.