Biden marketing campaign plows forward with schedule after he assessments unfavourable for COVID-19
Former Vice President Joe Biden plowed ahead with his Friday, albeit behind schedule, after just hours after President Trump announced that he and first lady Melania Trump tested positive for the virus.
The news of the first couple’s diagnosis once again roiled a presidential campaign cycle already disrupted in the past year by the, a prolonged presidential impeachment battle, natural disasters and delayed results in the early caucus state of Iowa.
Through most of Friday morning, Biden aides remained radio silent. Would Biden continue on with his campaign schedule? Will the campaign pull down advertising? Should he even be campaigning with the president and first lady in isolation at the White House? Nobody would answer.
But one senior Biden campaign aide finally cracked by mid-morning, describing the president’s health scare as “the definition of uncharted waters.”
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“This has literally never happened,” the senior aide added by text. “I think it’s too early to tell what impact it has, but certainly going to be a lot of convos today about potential impact, what changes we make if any, etc.”
In Grand Rapids, Michigan, where Biden is scheduled to speak on Friday, advance teams were seen preparing for the event, originally scheduled to begin at 12:15 p.m. Only after Biden tested negative for the coronavirus did the campaign assemble the traveling press corps in Wilmington, Delaware, and alert them that the day’s schedule would continue on a delayed timetable.
Also Friday, Biden campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon emailed staffers nationwide, reassuring them that “in consultation with health experts have continued to take every precaution to protect Vice President Biden, Sen. Harris, their spouses and our staff. The health and safety of the entire team has been, and will remain, our number one priority.”
O’Malley Dillon — who like all Biden campaign staffers continues to work remotely during the pandemic, and in her case out of her home in Bethesda, Maryland — instructed her colleagues to “refrain from posting about the situation on social media unless otherwise directed by your manager. We will share additional information and guidance with you as we have it.”
She added a P.S.: “We will continue to do hard things.”
That’s been O’Malley Dillon’s battle cry: “We can do hard things.” Campaigning against an ill president, with just 32 days before Election Day and as millions of Americans start casting ballots — a record number of them using absentee ballots because of pandemic health concerns — is most certainly a hard thing.
As of midday Friday, at least some of the norms appeared to still be in place. There was no sign of any television ad cancelations by either campaign, according to ad-tracking firm Kantar/CMAG.
Most notably, negative advertising remains on the airwaves. This morning the Biden campaign is airing a new TV ad in Pittsburgh featuring a local business owner who took aim at the president.
“COVID has affected by business in such a large way. To not be able to work for over three months, I lost eight employees,” the business owner says in the ad. “They had no other choice. It was heartbreaking for me. Trump does not see me. I don’t understand how he can look himself in the eye. I think Kamala and Joe are excellent choice for president and vice president. Joe actually has a plan. We do have to build it back better to give everyone equal opportunities to build their dreams.”
On Facebook, Biden has several ads currently taking aim at the president, but most of them do not directly relate to coronavirus. That is not something new as of this morning. He’s previously published on Facebook a number of ads on Mr. Trump’s handling of the pandemic, but those were mostly deactivated by late September.
As for the Trump campaign, it is running several negative attack ads against Biden, but they focus more on raising concerns about “the radical left.” An ad from the Trump Make America Great Again Committee has been deactivated as of today that asked viewers to “Please take the Official Trump Coronavirus Approval Poll NOW to tell us what you think.” Similar versions had been taken down before today.
Meanwhile, the pro-Biden Super PAC Priorities USA has been airing several ads against the president and his coronavirus response since the summer in battleground states. Communications Director Josh Schwerin told CBS News that going forward, “We’re taking stock of the situation and hoping for a swift recovery for the President and First Lady. We have no plans to pull back on our ongoing efforts to hold the President accountable for his failures on the pandemic.”
Erickson reported from Grand Rapids, Michigan.