World

Biden battles for attention as coronavirus slows his momentum

NEW YORK : Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden's campaign installed a television studio in his basement over the weekend so the Democratic front runner could demand bolder action from President Donald Trump on the coronavirus crisis and speak directly to the country.

But when he delivered the debut speech on Monday morning, major cable news networks broadcast New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's coronavirus briefing instead.

It was yet another sign of the upheaval the global pandemic has wrought on a presidential campaign that just a week ago seemed to be moving full steam towards a Nov 3 general election match-up between Mr Biden and Mr Trump.

Instead of the former vice-president wrapping up the Democratic nomination, the coronavirus has taken attention away from the 2020 White House race and threatens to blunt Mr Biden's momentum by postponing state nominating elections and indefinitely halting in-person campaign events and fundraisers.

By contrast, Mr Trump, who initially played down the virus' impact, has used his daily televised White House briefings on the crisis to project optimism about getting the pandemic under control and grab media attention. It is forcing the Biden campaign to recalibrate quickly to find new ways to connect with voters and donors and compete for attention.

"You're not going to have high-dollar donor parties," said Mr Ed Rendell, the Democratic National Committee chairman, who supports Mr Biden. "That's going to hurt."

Mr Biden's team is in talks with third parties about how it can expand its digital operations, according to a person familiar with the matter.

"You're going to be seeing a lot more of me on television... as well as online," Mr Biden told donors during a call on Sunday. - REUTERS

WORLD