The Hill's Campaign Report: Coronavirus hits 2020 race

The Hill's Campaign Report: Coronavirus hits 2020 race
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Welcome to The Hill's Campaign Report, your daily rundown on all the latest news in the 2020 presidential, Senate and House races. Did someone forward this to you? Click here to subscribe.

We're Julia Manchester, Max Greenwood and Jonathan Easley. Here's what we're watching today on the campaign trail. 

 

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LEADING THE DAY:

The coronavirus outbreak is upending the 2020 presidential election as campaigns scramble to cope with a new normal in public life. 

The three major presidential candidates -- former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenFox News polls: Trump trails Biden in Ohio, Arizona and Wisconsin Kelly holds double-digit lead over McSally in Arizona: poll Obama calls for police reforms, doesn't address Trump MORE, Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersBiden wins DC primary Biden wins Montana primary Biden wins New Mexico primary MORE (I-Vt.) and President Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpFormer employees critique EPA under Trump in new report Fired State Department watchdog says Pompeo aide attempted to 'bully' him over investigations Virginia senator calls for Barr to resign over order to clear protests MORE -- are canceling campaign events amid warnings from officials about the risk large gatherings pose in spreading the virus. Meanwhile, a planned Democratic debate on Sunday is expected to play out before an empty studio, and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) announced on Thursday that it would move the forum from Phoenix to Washington, D.C., to limit campaign travel. 

The coronavirus, known as COVID-19, has sickened nearly 132,000 people around the world, according to official counts. In the U.S., the number of confirmed cases surpassed 1,400 this week. In turn, major festivals, conferences, performances have been forced to proceed without audiences, postponed or, in some cases, called off all together. The nation's professional sporting leagues are suspending or delaying their seasons. At the same time, financial markets have plunged as investors have largely scoffed at efforts by governments to ease concerns. Stocks saw their biggest daily drop since 1987 on Thursday, despite the Federal Reserve's decision to inject $1.5 trillion in capital to calm the turbulent market.

Trump, who has fussed about the far-reaching implications of the pandemic, called off events in Colorado and Nevada "out of an abundance of caution from the coronavirus outbreak." The decision came hours after the president announced that he would ban all travel from Europe, with the exception of the United Kingdom, for 30 days. 

His Democratic rivals, Sanders and Biden, have sought to use the coronavirus outbreak as a chance to show off their leadership abilities. Both candidates addressed the country on Thursday, criticizing the Trump administration's response to the pandemic and arguing that their would-be administrations would be better prepared to tackle such a challenge.

"Unfortunately, this virus laid bare the severe shortcomings of the current administration. Public fears are being compounded by a pervasive lack of trust in this president," Biden said in an address on Thursday. "Neither should we panic or fallback on xenophobia," he said. "Labeling COVID-19 a 'foreign virus' does not displace accountability for the misjudgments that have been taken thus far by the Trump administration. Let me be crystal clear: the coronavirus does not have a political affiliation."

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Still, the outbreak has cut into the campaign schedules of both Biden and Sanders, as well. Both candidates canceled scheduled events in Cleveland on Tuesday. Biden called off rallies in Illinois and Florida on Wednesday, announcing that he would instead hold "virtual" campaign events. And Sanders's campaign has said that it would evaluate future events for safety on a case-by-case basis. 

--Max Greenwood

 

READ MORE: 

Coronavirus disrupts presidential campaigns, by Julia

Biden campaign announces public health panel to advise on coronavirus, by The Hill's Tal Axelrod

Biden rolls out plan to combat coronavirus, by Julia

DNC chair 'not contemplating' move to online convention, by The Hill's Justine Coleman

Biden to hold virtual campaign events amid coronavirus outbreak, by Max

Sanders: Coronavirus crisis 'is on the scale of a major war,' by Julia

Biden campaign staff to work from home amid coronavirus outbreak, by Julia

 

FROM THE TRAIL:

The Democratic National Committee (DNC) and CNN announced on Thursday that the 11th Democratic presidential debate will be moved from Phoenix to Washington, D.C., in an effort to cut down on campaign travel amid the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, Jonathan reports. The move comes after the DNC said that the debate would be held without a live studio audience. At the same time, Univision anchor Jorge Ramos will no longer be one of the moderators. The DNC said that he had recently been "in proximity with someone who was in direct contact with a person that tested positive for coronavirus."

 

Biden has tapped Jennifer O'Malley Dillon, the former top campaign aide for Beto O'RourkeBeto O'RourkeBiden will help close out Texas Democrats' virtual convention: report O'Rourke on Texas reopening: 'Dangerous, dumb and weak' Parties gear up for battle over Texas state House MORE, as his new campaign manager, a shakeup intended to address lingering concerns about the former vice president's organizational structure, The Hill's Tal Axelrod reports. Biden's former campaign manager Greg Schultz will stay with the campaign but will focus on "organizational planning for the general election and continuing to bolster the campaign's external outreach," the campaign said in a statement.  

 

Biden is in a delicate position. He's all but certain to win the Democratic nomination after racking up a series of primary wins in recent weeks, but he will also have to confront the task of unifying an ideologically divided party, The Hill's Amie Parnes reports. Democrats say he must lure Sanders loyalists to his side without offending them as he pivots from the primary to the general election. "It's about how Biden conducts himself," Addisu Demissie, the former campaign manager for Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerRand Paul holding up quick passage of anti-lynching bill Minority caucuses call for quick action on police reform It's time to shut down industrial animal farming MORE's (D-N.J.) presidential bid, said. "You have to not be presumptuous and say it's a foregone conclusion."

 

Senate Democrats were far from thrilled to hear Sanders say Wednesday he would keep fighting for the presidential nomination, with some colleagues starting to drop hints he should consider ending his White House bid sooner rather than later, The Hill's Alexander Bolton reports.

 

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PERSPECTIVES: 

Angela Evans: "Civility, or civil war?"

Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.): "Joe Biden isn't a perfect candidate, but he's the 2020 Democrat who can beat Trump"

Richard Wolffe: "Biden has all but won the nomination – and Trump is looking vulnerable"

Kathy Gilsinan: "Never say Never Trump"

 

FROM CONGRESS AND THE STATES:

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A large majority of Hispanic voters in battleground districts are "almost certain" to turn out to vote in November, according to research conducted for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus's (CHC) campaign arm, Bold PAC, The Hill's Rafael Bernal reports.

 

Former Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission announcing the formation of a PAC that will direct money toward House Democratic candidates, The Hill's Tal Axelrod reports.

 

POLL WATCH:

UNIVERSITY OF NORTH FLORIDA POLL – FLORIDA PRIMARY

Biden: 66 percent

Sanders: 22 percent

 

ST. PETE POLLS – FLORIDA PRIMARY

Biden: 69 percent

Sanders: 14 percent

 

PUBLIC POLICY POLLING – WISCONSIN PRIMARY

Biden: 55 percent

Sanders: 39 percent

 

PUBLIC POLICY POLLING – KANSAS PRIMARY

Biden: 59 percent

Sanders: 35 percent

 

MARK YOUR CALENDARS:

March 15:

-Eleventh Democratic presidential primary debate

 

March 17:

-Arizona Democratic primary

-Florida primaries

-Illinois primaries

-Ohio primaries

 

March 24:

-Georgia primaries 

 

March 29:

Puerto Rico Democratic primary

 

We'll see you tomorrow with a recap of the latest campaign news and updates!