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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Presidential Election of 2020"

Facebook, Google and Twitter Struggle to Handle November’s Election

Westlake Legal Group 12election-tech-facebookJumbo Facebook, Google and Twitter Struggle to Handle November’s Election Zuckerberg, Mark E YouTube.com United States Politics and Government twitter Social Media Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Rumors and Misinformation Primaries and Caucuses Presidential Election of 2020 Presidential Election of 2016 Political Advertising Online Advertising Google Inc Facebook Inc elections Cyberwarfare and Defense

SAN FRANCISCO — The day after the New Hampshire primary last month, Facebook’s security team removed a network of fake accounts that originated in Iran, which had posted divisive partisan messages about the U.S. election inside private Facebook groups.

Hours later, the social network learned the campaign of Michael R. Bloomberg, the billionaire former New York mayor, had sidestepped its political ad process by directly paying Instagram meme accounts to post in support of his presidential bid.

That same day, a pro-Trump group called the Committee to Defend the President, which had previously run misleading Facebook ads, was found to be promoting a photo that falsely claimed to show Bernie Sanders supporters holding signs with divisive slogans such as “Illegal Aliens Deserve the Same as Our Veterans.”

Facebook, Twitter, Google and other big tech companies have spent the past three years working to avoid a repeat of 2016, when their platforms were overrun by Russian trolls and used to amplify America’s partisan divide. The internet giants have since collectively spent billions of dollars hiring staff, fortifying their systems and developing new policies to prevent election meddling.

But as the events of just one day — Feb. 12 — at Facebook showed, although the companies are better equipped to deal with the types of interference they faced in 2016, they are struggling to handle the new challenges of 2020.

Their difficulties reflect how much online threats have evolved since the 2016 election. Russia and other foreign governments once conducted online influence operations in plain sight, buying Facebook ads in rubles and tweeting in broken English, but they are now using more sophisticated tactics such as bots that are nearly impossible to distinguish from hyperpartisan Americans.

More problematic, partisan groups in the United States have borrowed Russia’s 2016 playbook to create their own propaganda and disinformation campaigns, forcing the tech companies to make tough calls about restricting the speech of American citizens. Even well-funded presidential campaigns have pushed the limits of what the platforms will allow.

“They’ve built defenses for past battles, but are they prepared for the next front in the war?” Laura Rosenberger, the director of the Alliance for Securing Democracy, a think tank that works to counter foreign interference campaigns, said of the tech companies. “Anytime you’re dealing with a sophisticated actor, they’re going to evolve their tactics as you evolve your defenses.”

By most accounts, the big tech companies have gotten better at stopping certain types of election meddling, such as foreign trolling operations and posts containing inaccurate voting information. But they are reluctant to referee other kinds of social media electioneering for fear of appearing to tip the scales. And their policies, often created hastily while under pressure, have proved confusing and inadequate.

Adding to the companies’ troubles is the coronavirus pandemic, which is straining their technical infrastructure, unleashing a new misinformation wave and forcing their employees to coordinate a vast election effort spanning multiple teams and government agencies from their homes.

In interviews with two dozen executives and employees at Facebook, Google and Twitter over the past few months, many described a tense atmosphere of careening from crisis to crisis to handle the newest tactics being used to sow discord and influence votes. Many spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss sensitive internal issues.

Some Facebook and Google employees said they feared being blamed by Democrats for a Trump re-election, while others said they did not want to be seen as acting in Democrats’ favor. Privately, some said, the best-case scenario for them in November would be a landslide victory by either party, with a margin too large to be pinned on any one tech platform.

Google declined to speak publicly for this article. Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy, said the threats of 2016 were less effective now but “we’ve seen threat actors evolving and getting better.” Twitter also said the threats were a game of “cat and mouse.”

“We’re constantly trying to stay one step ahead,” said Carlos Monje Jr., Twitter’s director of public policy.

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, ordered a “lockdown” for hundreds of employees late last year.

A lockdown is Facebook-speak for a period of intense, focused effort on a high-priority project. The workers, who included engineers and policy employees, were ordered to drop other projects and build tools to prevent interference in the 2020 election, said two people with knowledge of the instructions.

For Mr. Zuckerberg, who once delegated the messy business of politics to his lieutenants, November’s election has become a personal fixation. In 2017, after the extent of Russia’s manipulation of the social network became clear, he vowed to prevent it from happening again.

“We won’t catch everyone immediately, but we can make it harder to try to interfere,” he said.

Facebook has since required anyone running U.S. political ads to submit proof of an American mailing address, and included their ads in a publicly searchable database. It has invested billions to moderate content, drawn up new policies against misinformation and manipulated media, and hired tens of thousands of safety and security workers.

In the 2018 midterm elections, those efforts resulted in a relatively scandal-free Election Day. But 2020 is presenting different challenges.

Last year, lawmakers blasted Mr. Zuckerberg for refusing to fact-check Facebook posts or take down false ads placed by political candidates; he said it would be an affront to free speech. The laissez-faire approach has been embraced by some Republicans, including President Trump, but has made Facebook unpopular among Democrats and civil rights groups.

Still, Facebook’s rank-and-file workers are cautiously optimistic. In late January, just before the Iowa caucuses, a group of employees gathered at the company’s headquarters for a party to celebrate the end of the lockdown.

For hours, they ate, drank, and watched a talent show featuring employee-led musical acts and improv comedy sketches. An Iowa state flag hung on the wall.

At one point, said two people who attended, a surprise guest entered: Mr. Zuckerberg, who stopped by to thank the team for its work.

Just after noon last Oct. 30, Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s chief executive, posted a string of 11 tweets to announce he was banning all political ads from the service.

“Paying to increase the reach of political speech has significant ramifications that today’s democratic infrastructure may not be prepared to handle,” he wrote.

His zero-tolerance move was one action that Twitter and companies like Google have taken to stave off another election crisis — or at least to distance themselves from the partisan fray.

Over the past year, Twitter has introduced automated systems to detect bot activity and has taken down Russian, Chinese, Venezuelan and Saudi bots. The company also prohibited users from posting information illegally obtained through a security breach.

And this month, Twitter enforced new guidelines to label or remove deceptively edited videos from its site.

“We’re moving away from a model of waiting for a report to spotting patterns of behavior that can spot stuff before it catches fire,” Mr. Monje said.

Google, which owns YouTube, also altered its policies to prevent foreign-backed disinformation campaigns and introduced transparency measures for political ads.

The changes are evident in how the Infowars conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and the Kremlin-linked news outlet RT — two of YouTube’s most popular political newscasters in 2016 — no longer wield outsize influence on the site. Once YouTube tightened its hate speech policies, it banned Mr. Jones and other repeat offenders, and tweaked its recommendation algorithm to promote more authoritative news and fewer conspiracy theories.

Google security engineers said they were embedded in every corner of the company to look for Russian-style influence campaigns. They deliver daily threat briefings to executives and are conducting “red-team” drills to practice responding to hypothetical election-meddling scenarios, like hackers potentially manipulating the Google Maps locations of polling places on voting day.

Yet gaps remain in the tech platforms’ armor.

Government officials and former employees said Twitter’s algorithms were not reliably distinguishing between bots and humans who simply tweet like bots. Its efforts to label manipulated media have been underwhelming, said election campaigns. And some Twitter employees tracking election threats have been pulled away to triage misinformation about the coronavirus, such as false claims about miracle cures.

Threats have also emerged in unexpected places. In December, The New York Times revealed foreign spies were hiding in plain sight inside app stores from Google and Apple. Millions of users worldwide had downloaded a popular app, ToTok, which was leaking audio, photos, texts, and contacts to United Arab Emirates intelligence officials through a network of Emirati contractors.

Apple removed ToTok, but Google reinstated the app two weeks later. For six more weeks, Emirati spies continued siphoning off Google users’ data, said security experts and intelligence officials.

Google, which declined to comment on ToTok, eventually removed it from its app store last month.

Tracing interference attempts to Russia, or any other country, has become increasingly difficult.

For Facebook, Google and Twitter, the complications were clear through the evolving tactics of Russia’s Internet Research Agency, the troll farm that meddled online in 2016. Its trolls once barely made any attempt to hide themselves online, with misspelled posts riddled with poor grammar.

Now the Russian group has better disguised itself, posting divisive messages stolen from American sites or publications. The trolls may now also be paying Americans to post information on their behalf, to better hide their digital tracks.

In one Facebook influence campaign in Africa last year, the Russian group appeared to pay locals to attend rallies and write favorable articles about its preferred candidates.

“Figuring out who is behind these campaigns can take months, years even,” said Yoel Roth, Twitter’s head of site integrity.

To connect the dots, security executives from Twitter, Google, Facebook, Yahoo and other companies said they were meeting regularly with the Department of Homeland Security, the F.B.I. and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. They were also trading intelligence and discussing threats over encrypted chat messages with one another.

“I talk to them more than I talk to my husband,” Mr. Roth said of his counterparts at Facebook, Google and other companies.

The most divisive content this year may not come from Russian trolls or Macedonian teenagers peddling fake news for clicks, but from American politicians using many of the same tactics to push their own agendas.

One chief perpetrator? The White House.

Last month, Mr. Trump and other Republicans shared a video of Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker, during the president’s State of the Union address. Ms. Pelosi had ripped up a copy of Mr. Trump’s speech at the end of the address. But the video was edited so it appeared as if she had torn up the speech while he honored a Tuskegee airman and military families.

A spokesman for Ms. Pelosi called for the video to be removed from Facebook and Twitter, saying it was “deliberately designed to mislead and lie to the American people.” But the companies said the video did not violate their policies on manipulated media.

This month, Dan Scavino, the White House social media director, shared another selectively edited video. It showed former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. appearing to say, “We can only re-elect Donald Trump.” In fact, the full video showed Mr. Biden saying Mr. Trump would only get re-elected if Democrats resorted to negative campaigning.

Facebook did not remove the video. By the time Twitter labeled it as manipulated, it had been viewed more than five million times. Because of a glitch, some Twitter users did not see the label at all.

“The Biden video wasn’t manipulated, and if Nancy Pelosi didn’t want to see video of herself ripping up the speech, she shouldn’t have ripped up the speech,” said Tim Murtaugh, a spokesman for the Trump re-election campaign. He suggested that Twitter’s efforts to label the video were evidence of bias.

Democrats have also pushed the envelope to get messages out on social media. Mr. Bloomberg’s presidential campaign, which he suspended this month, caused headaches for the tech platforms, even as they took in millions of dollars to run his ads.

Among his campaign’s innovations was buying sponsored posts from influential Instagram meme accounts and paying “digital organizers” $2,500 a month to post pro-Bloomberg messages on their social media accounts. The campaign also posted a video of Mr. Bloomberg’s presidential debate performance, which had been edited to create the impression of long, awkward silences by his opponents.

Some of the tactics seemed perilously close to violating the tech companies’ rules on undisclosed political ads, manipulated media and “coordinated inauthentic behavior,” a term for networks of fake or suspicious accounts acting in concert.

Facebook and Twitter scrambled to react, hastily patching together solutions, including requiring more disclosure — or taking no action at all.

By then, the Bloomberg campaign, which declined to comment, had set a new playbook for other campaigns to follow.

“We can’t blame Russia for all our troubles,” said Alex Stamos, Facebook’s former chief security officer who now researches disinformation at Stanford University. “The future of disinformation is going to be domestic.”

Inside the tech companies, people charged with protecting the election have at times clashed with those whose job is to keep lawmakers happy, partly by avoiding the appearance of partisan bias.

At Facebook, those tensions spilled out last year.

In November and December, members of Facebook’s security team clashed with the policy team, whose Washington-based leadership includes several former Republican operatives, over a network of Facebook accounts, groups and pages run by The Daily Wire, a right-wing media company started by the conservative pundit Ben Shapiro.

Facebook’s security team had found The Daily Wire and other similar networks used tactics commonly associated with disinformation networks, including coordinating messaging and posts without indicating they were centrally administered, said people with knowledge of the findings.

Some security team members wanted an expanded mandate to investigate hyperpartisan networks based in the United States, the people said. But the policy team discouraged them and made it clear that foreign influence operations took priority over domestic ones, they said.

Part of the policy team’s concern, said one employee who participated in the discussions, was that taking action against a prominent right-wing network could set off a Republican backlash.

Mr. Gleicher, of Facebook, said he did not recall tensions over The Daily Wire, adding that the investigation found the site did not meet the threshold for enforcement. He also disputed that Facebook had discouraged investigations into domestic influence operations because of possible political fallout.

“We make decisions based on behavior,” he said. “Whether it’s foreign or domestic, the question is, are they engaged in these consistent behaviors?”

The specter of partisan backlash surfaced again this month, when Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign ran Facebook ads asking people to take an “Official 2020 Congressional District Census.” In fact, the ads linked to a Trump campaign survey.

That prompted an uproar. Civil rights groups said the ads could mislead voters by suggesting they were connected to the official U.S. census.

Over a frenetic 48 hours, Facebook went into damage control. Although the social network has said it would not fact-check political ads, it also prohibits misinformation about the census.

The policy team initially decided the Trump census ads did not violate Facebook’s rules. But a day later, under fire for inaction, a senior Facebook executive reversed the call.

The ads came down, after all.

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Trump to Issue Travel Advisory for N.Y. Region, Backing Off Quarantine Threat

Westlake Legal Group 28dc-virus-trump-facebookJumbo Trump to Issue Travel Advisory for N.Y. Region, Backing Off Quarantine Threat United States Politics and Government United States Navy Trump, Donald J Presidential Election of 2020 NORFOLK, Va. Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)

WASHINGTON — President Trump said Saturday night that he would not impose a quarantine on New York, New Jersey and Connecticut to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, but would instead issue a “strong” travel advisory for the region to be enacted by the governors of the three states.

Mr. Trump made the announcement on Twitter just hours after telling reporters that he was considering a quarantine of the area in an effort to limit the spread of the virus to Florida and other parts of the country, a move that would have been a drastic exercise of federal power to further restrict travel by millions of Americans.

Mr. Trump had offered no details about how his administration would enforce a ban on movements in and out of the three northeastern states, including the country’s most populous city, and the idea drew swift condemnation. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York called it a “declaration of war on states.” Other governors said the idea could cause confusion and panic.

In his tweet, Mr. Trump said that he had been in consultation with the governors and had decided that a quarantine would not be necessary after all. He said that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would provide details later Saturday night about the travel advisory that would soon go into effect.

The specter of a federal quarantine came after a wave of governors, fearful about the virus spreading further through their states, had ordered people who had traveled from New York to isolate themselves for two weeks after their arrivals. Gov. Gina Raimondo of Rhode Island said Friday that state troopers would begin stopping drivers with New York license plates so that National Guard officials could collect contact information and inform anyone coming from the state that they were subject to a mandatory, 14-day quarantine.

Mr. Trump’s tweet appeared to suggest that the travel advisory would help governors reduce the chances that people from states with high rates of infection would be likely to travel into their communities, reducing the risk of transmission.

Earlier in the day, Mr. Trump had suggested that a quarantine might be necessary to achieve that, though he was quick to insist that such a move would not prevent truckers from making deliveries from outside the area and would not affect trade with the three states “in any way.”

Speaking to reporters before traveling to Norfolk, Va., to see off the Navy’s Comfort ship as it deployed to New York to bolster hospital capacity, Mr. Trump said that New York and the other states had become a “hot spot” and that infected New Yorkers had been carrying the pathogen to Florida.

“There is a possibility that sometime today we’ll do a quarantine, short term, two weeks, on New York, probably New Jersey, certain parts of Connecticut,” Mr. Trump, a former New Yorker who now is officially a Florida resident, said in the morning on Saturday. “They’re having problems down in Florida. A lot of New Yorkers going down, we don’t want that, heavily infected.”

The president’s musing about a quarantine was the latest example of how he has lurched from one public message to another as his administration struggles to slow the spread of a deadly pandemic, prevent large-scale deaths and minimize the long-term damage to the nation’s economy and way of life.


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Days earlier, Mr. Trump had repeatedly defied the recommendations of his own public health experts by insisting that he wanted to lift social distancing restrictions so that large parts of the country could return to work, perhaps as early as April 12. But on Saturday, the president veered in the other direction, suggesting that even more stringent restrictions, like a quarantine, were necessary to slow the spread of the virus.

“I’d rather not do it, but we may need it,” Mr. Trump said of a quarantine.

The idea came as the White House’s two-week national coronavirus guidelines — including recommendations to work from home, avoid discretionary travel and limit gatherings to no more than 10 people — are set to expire on Monday. Mr. Trump has not yet said whether he will extend them.

The suggestion from the president that he might prevent residents of the tristate region from leaving their states surprised top officials.

Mr. Cuomo quickly dismissed the idea, calling it “unworkable” and questioned whether the president had the authority to confine vast numbers of Americans in a particular region.

“I don’t even know what that means,” Mr. Cuomo said during an afternoon briefing in Albany. “I don’t know how that could be legally enforceable. From a medical point of view, I don’t know what you would be accomplishing.” Asked about the proposal on CNN, Mr. Cuomo said the plan stood at odds with the law and the president’s desire to restart the economy. “You would paralyze the financial sector,” he said, saying the stock market would “drop like a stone.”

Mr. Cuomo said that he and the president had spoken earlier on Saturday about the arrival of the Navy’s hospital ship, but added, “I didn’t speak to him about any quarantine.” Gov. Philip D. Murphy of New Jersey also said that he was unfamiliar with what Mr. Trump had suggested, and that it had not come up when the two men talked on Friday. Gov. Ned Lamont of Connecticut said in a statement that he looked forward to discussing the proposal with Mr. Trump “because confusion leads to panic.”

White House officials provided no specific information about the legal basis for a mass quarantine of millions of people and Mark Meadows, the president’s incoming chief of staff, said only that the administration was “evaluating all the options right now.” But pressed on the matter, officials referred reporters to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website titled “Legal Authorities for Isolation and Quarantine.”

The site asserts that the commerce clause of the Constitution gives the federal government the power to isolate or quarantine people, and that section 361 of the Public Health Service Act authorizes the secretary of health and human services to “take measures to prevent the entry and spread of communicable diseases from foreign countries into the United States and between states.”

Existing regulations indicate that in the event of a federal quarantine, “no such individual shall travel in interstate traffic or from one state or U.S. territory to another without a written travel permit issued by” the director of the C.D.C. or someone acting on his behalf.

But Leila Barraza, an assistant professor of public health at the University of Arizona, said an attempt by the federal government to restrict travel between states was likely to be challenged in court, especially if the president had not tried less draconian measures first.

“There has to be a compelling interest for imposing interstate travel restrictions, and they have to be the least restrictive possible,” she said.

The purpose of a quarantine would be to prevent the spread of a deadly pathogen. But medical experts were split on Saturday about whether such an action would help in the current situation, when the coronavirus has already spread widely around the country. As of Saturday, the United States had more than 119,000 known cases of the virus, with infected patients in all 50 states and Washington, D.C.

Other countries, including India, have embraced severe lockdowns of their citizens, including limits on travel, in an effort to try to prevent the spread of the virus, something that some public health experts said could still be effective in the United States.

But Dr. Amesh Adalja, an assistant professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, countered that Mr. Trump’s comments on a possible quarantine would provide little benefit, given that much of the region is already under fairly strict stay-at-home measures, and might cause people to flee the city, spreading the virus more quickly.

“Just seeing the breaking news alerts on their phones will cause people to leave the city,” Dr. Adalja said. “It could end up creating more flight from New York and more chains of transmission.”

That is just what happened in China after the mayor of Wuhan, where the virus first emerged, began speculating about the possibility of closing his city to keep the virus from spreading to the rest of the country.

Panicked residents of the city — many of whom were already planning to leave for the Lunar New Year holiday — fled. Five million people from Wuhan escaped before air, train, bus and road traffic was finally firmly shut on Jan. 23. Their travel to other parts of the country seeded new outbreaks all over China.

Public health officials around the country have criticized Mr. Trump and his administration for failing to move quickly enough to provide diagnostic testing that could have helped track the spread of the virus earlier. Governors and mayors have pleaded with the president to do more to help them acquire protective gear like masks and ventilators for emergency medical workers, nurses and doctors.

Mr. Trump floated the idea of a quarantine even as he left the White House for the first time in more than a week to travel to a naval base in Norfolk so he could trumpet the departure of the 894-foot hospital ship, saying that its 1,000 beds would play a “critical role” in freeing up capacity at area hospitals.

In reality, however, the arrival of the Comfort will help the struggling state only on the margins. New York estimates it will need a total of 140,000 beds to treat patients who are ill with the disease caused by the coronavirus, and it has about 53,000 beds during normal times.

“You have the unwavering support of the entire nation, the entire government and the entire American people,” Mr. Trump said.

The president’s decision to turn the trip to the base into a high-profile photo opportunity raised questions about safety and his use of government resources at a time when the administration’s own guidelines advise against most travel and gatherings of more than 10 people.

“We don’t need Donald Trump in Virginia doing a photo op,” Terry McAuliffe, the former Democratic governor of Virginia, said in an interview. “He ought to be staying in Washington, in his job. It’s a total waste of time.”

Mr. Trump delivered his speech in front of a small audience of about a dozen military officials, as well as a handful of White House aides who traveled with him. The ship is expected to take on patients in New York with other illnesses to let hospitals focus on the large number of coronavirus cases, the president said.

A White House official said the trip was proposed partly because the naval station is self-contained and would not require Mr. Trump to be in public areas like a commercial airport.

“It’s like a tiny trip,” Mr. Trump said on Friday, defending his decision to go. “I think it’s a good thing when I go over there and I say thank you. We’ll be careful.”

Charlie Savage contributed reporting from Washington, and Andrew Jacobs, Donald G. McNeil Jr. and Jesse McKinley from New York.

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As Coronavirus Crisis Unfolds, Sanders Sees a Moment That Matches His Ideas

Westlake Legal Group 26sanders1-facebookJumbo As Coronavirus Crisis Unfolds, Sanders Sees a Moment That Matches His Ideas United States Politics and Government Stimulus (Economic) Sanders, Bernard Primaries and Caucuses Presidential Election of 2020 Presidential Election of 2016 Democratic Party Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)

Both hands were waving — over here, over there, a full wingspan on display — as Bernie Sanders directed his most biting sarcasm at his “Republican friends.”

Excuse him, forgive him, for wanting working people to get a few more bucks for a few more months as part of the sweeping stimulus bill that was being debated on the Senate floor. Excuse him, forgive him, for not wanting “to punish the poor and working people” struggling to weather the economic meltdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

“My Republican colleagues are very distressed,” he said late Wednesday.

“Oh my God, the universe is collapsing!” he said so passionately that he nearly spat. “Oh my word, will the universe survive?!”

With the virus bringing the nation to a virtual stop, there is no real presidential campaign for Mr. Sanders to engage in, and even if there were, he is almost hopelessly behind Joseph R. Biden Jr. in the delegate count. Many Democrats and even some allies have said it is time for him to bow out — or at minimum articulate publicly why he wants to remain in the race.

But Mr. Sanders is still running, in large part, allies and aides say, because he believes he can meld this moment of national crisis with the progressive policy agenda that has been his life’s work.

“For someone who has built a career out of campaigning against the inequality of our health care system, this is prime time,” said Nick Carter, who served as political outreach director for the 2016 Sanders campaign.

So Mr. Sanders will take the stage when he can get it — including on the Senate floor Wednesday night, but also in news releases, radio and television interviews and live streams where he studiously repeats his mantra to loyalists who once crowded Iowa auditoriums to cheer him but now must settle for sometimes technologically challenged digital presentations.

It is unclear who exactly is listening or whether he can make a difference. Even Mr. Biden, as the likely Democratic nominee to face President Trump, has struggled to get visibility. Both candidates are being overshadowed by daily briefings from Mr. Trump and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York.

In an interview on Thursday with the radio program “1A,” Mr. Sanders did not say how long he intended to stay in the race but suggested he was not going anywhere soon. And he rebuffed a comparison to his 2016 campaign, when he fought Hillary Clinton to the bitter end, arguing that the coronavirus made the two situations different because many states this year had postponed their primaries.

“You’re talking about an election without elections,” he said. “What does that mean? It’s kind of unprecedented.”

His campaign says he is still actively running for president, and there is other concrete evidence he is. On Tuesday, his team confirmed that he planned to participate in an April debate with Mr. Biden if there is one. The Bern app, a proprietary smartphone app that the campaign uses to organize volunteers, still includes an option for supporters to send their networks a text message encouraging them to mail in ballots, according to an aide. Under phone bank event listings on his campaign website, volunteers are urged to “join campaign staff as we outreach our communities.”

But his campaign is not actively advertising on Facebook and has not made any significant television ad buys since March 12. He has not actively fund-raised for his campaign in over a week, though his campaign has used its extensive email list to raise money for charities to help people during the virus crisis. On Wednesday, his campaign sent an email to supporters asking them to sign a petition to help Amazon workers.

Some Democratic supporters of his have said it’s time to end his campaign, including Robert Reich, the former labor secretary. Other Democrats say that if he stays in, he should make clear his motivation and his goal.

“I’ve never seen Bernie as someone who is selfish, I’ve always thought of him as being an advocate for his cause,” Jay Jacobs, the chairman of the New York State Democratic Party, said in an interview. “If he stays in the race for no reason, that would be selfish.”

In conversations with aides and allies since March 17 — when stinging losses in three states left him with no realistic chance at winning the Democratic nomination — many said he viewed this as an extraordinary moment that not only demands the kind of political revolution he has championed since he was the mayor of Burlington, Vt., but also underscores why the country would have been better off if his liberal policy agenda was already in place.

Mr. Sanders has appeared eager to put himself front and center for his supporters, holding live stream events on the virus nearly every night and pushing out a long list of policy proposals to handle the outbreak that included providing every American with a check for $2,000 a month.

In a sign of his political influence, he threatened on Wednesday afternoon to hold up the economic stimulus bill if Republicans continued to fight unemployment benefits that they feared would be larger than some people’s wages — the reason for his sarcastic denunciations in the Senate chamber.

“While we do our best to address these crises, it is extremely important that we try to understand how we got to where we are today, and the need to bring about fundamental reform of American society,” Mr. Sanders said during a live stream event on Wednesday night, after running viewers through major elements of the stimulus bill.

Many of his supporters are still holding out faint hope that he can win the nomination, arguing that the coronavirus outbreak has made even unlikely scenarios possible. Already, many states have pushed their primaries back to June 2, making it impossible for Mr. Biden to clinch the nomination before then. There are murmurs among some allies that Mr. Sanders intends to stay in at least until the primary in New York, which is scheduled for April 28 but could be pushed back to June 23.

Some want him to stay in the race indefinitely because his candidacy provides him the megaphone to shape the narrative of the progressive agenda, and will give him leverage as he seeks policy concessions from Mr. Biden and influence over the party’s platform.

Some close to him suggested that his coronavirus outreach was a way to keep his supporters motivated and engaged during this strange time of suspended animation, so that the campaign can jump-start them into action if he decides to rev his candidacy back up.

His detractors, however, point out that he has chosen to hold his own events and speak to his own supporters but until Wednesday had largely left the congressional proceedings to others — including his former rival Senator Elizabeth Warren, who was active in helping to shape the rescue bill. On Sunday, when fellow Senate Democrats blocked an action on the bill that delayed progress, he skipped the vote, instead remaining in Burlington to air a live stream with Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib.

Some aides said he chose not to fly to Washington for the vote because its outcome was never in doubt. But others close to him professed confusion that he had passed up even a symbolic opportunity to offer his voice in the midst of a national emergency.

As Mr. Sanders continues to mull his campaign’s future, few aides are willing to so much as speculate what he will decide to do. When he returned to Burlington last week, none of his closest advisers went with him. Neither Jeff Weaver, a top adviser, nor his campaign manager, Faiz Shakir, has responded to interview requests for days.

“I’m officially declining to comment,” Mr. Shakir said in a text message on Thursday. “Feel free to use that if you’d like.”

Mr. Sanders, in the meantime, has said more than once — including during Thursday’s radio interview — that he is winning the generational and ideological debate. And he seems ready to carry the debate forward. Only he knows for how long.

Stephanie Saul and Nick Corasaniti contributed reporting.

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‘It’s a Leadership Argument’: Coronavirus Reshapes Health Care Fight

Westlake Legal Group 24campaign-health1-facebookJumbo ‘It’s a Leadership Argument’: Coronavirus Reshapes Health Care Fight United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Presidential Election of 2020 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (2010) Health Insurance and Managed Care Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Biden, Joseph R Jr

WASHINGTON — One of the thorniest debates in American politics is over health care. Now add a pandemic.

The future of America’s health insurance system has already been a huge part of the 2020 presidential race. At campaign events over the past year, voters have shared stories of cancer diagnoses, costly medications and crushing medical debt.

That was before more than 68,000 people in the United States tested positive for the coronavirus, grinding the country to a halt, upending lives from coast to coast, and postponing primary elections in many states. The virus has made the stakes, and the differing visions the two parties have for health care in America, that much clearer.

“Health care was always going to be a big issue in the general election, and the coronavirus epidemic will put health care even more top of mind for voters,” said Larry Levitt, the executive vice president for health policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan research organization. “Sometimes these health care debates can get a bit abstract, but when it’s an immediate threat to the health of you and your family, it becomes a lot more real.”

On Monday, Joseph R. Biden Jr. sent a letter to President Trump and Republican state officials that emphasized the sorts of immediate threats Americans are feeling, and criticized those Republicans for supporting litigation that targets the Affordable Care Act. The letter called it “unconscionable that you are continuing to pursue a lawsuit designed to strip millions” of coverage in the midst of a pandemic.

Mr. Biden sent his missive on a health care milestone: the 10th anniversary of when President Barack Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law — with Mr. Biden, then the vice president and now the likely Democratic presidential nominee, standing by his side.

While the Democrats spent much of their primary fighting about whether to push for “Medicare for all” or build on the Affordable Care Act, the coronavirus crisis may streamline the debate to their advantage: At a time when the issue of health care is as pressing as ever, they can present themselves as the party that wants people to have sufficient coverage while arguing that the Republicans do not.

“A crisis like the coronavirus epidemic highlights the stake that everyone has in the care of the sick,” said Paul Starr, a professor of sociology and public affairs at Princeton who served as a health policy adviser in the Clinton White House. “It really strengthens the Democratic case for expanded health coverage, and that should work, I should think, to Biden’s advantage in a campaign against Trump.”

The virus is also having dire economic consequences, depriving Mr. Trump of a potent re-election argument rooted in stock market gains and low unemployment numbers. It is testing Mr. Trump’s leadership in the face of a national emergency like nothing he has encountered, and if voters give him poor marks, that could inflict lasting damage on his chances in November’s general election.

“It’s a leadership argument,” said Representative Donna E. Shalala, Democrat of Florida, who served as secretary of health and human services for President Bill Clinton. “Who do you want to be president of the United States when there’s a big health crisis?”

In addition, the virus is a providing an unmistakable reminder that Mr. Trump and Mr. Biden have starkly different views about the future of American health care — and starkly different records on the issue.

Four years ago, Mr. Trump ran for president promising to repeal the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare. But his campaign pledge quickly turned into a debacle in the first year of his presidency when Republicans struggled and ultimately failed to repeal and replace the health law. In the midterm elections the next year, Democrats emphasized health care, highlighting issues like preserving protections for people with pre-existing conditions, and they won control of the House.

That line of argument has already surfaced in the 2020 election cycle. “Too many Montana families go to sleep at night worried about health care — coverage, costs, now the fear of coronavirus,” the narrator said in a recent ad targeting Senator Steve Daines, Republican of Montana, who is up for re-election. The ad was run by Protect Our Care, a liberal advocacy group that supports the Affordable Care Act and has set up a coronavirus “war room” aimed at holding Mr. Trump accountable over his handling of the crisis.

Mr. Trump is particularly vulnerable on the issue of health care. Over the course of his presidency, his administration has repeatedly taken steps to undermine the Affordable Care Act, including by arguing in court that the entire law should be invalidated. The Supreme Court agreed this month to hear an appeal in that case, which is the latest major challenge to the law. The court is not expected to rule until next year, but Democrats point to the Trump administration’s legal position as yet another example of the president’s desire to shred the Affordable Care Act.

All together, those steps by Mr. Trump and his administration amounted to something of a policy piñata for Mr. Biden and other Democrats to swing at in the general election, even before the coronavirus threat emerged.

“Trump wants to take health care away,” said Representative Ami Bera of California, a physician. “Democrats and Vice President Biden want to extend health care and make it affordable.”

In his campaign, Mr. Biden has already put a focus on health care, promising to build on the Affordable Care Act and create a so-called public option, an optional government plan that consumers could purchase. On the campaign trail, he has talked about his own exposure to the health care system, including when his late son, Beau Biden, had brain cancer. He has also regularly heard from people about their own struggles. “They walk up and grab me and say, ‘I just lost my daughter, cancer,’ or, ‘My son’s dying,’ or, ‘I have Stage 4,’” he recalled this year.

Andrew Bates, a spokesman for the Biden campaign, said Mr. Trump had “spent almost his entire presidency attempting to cost millions of Americans their health coverage,” adding: “The coronavirus outbreak, which Trump has egregiously mishandled, would be even more catastrophic if he had his way on health care.”

At a Fox News town hall event this month, Mr. Trump said he had not “been able to sell what a great job we’ve done” on health care. While the president and congressional Republicans failed at repealing the Affordable Care Act, they succeeded at undoing a key part of the law when, as part of their 2017 tax overhaul, they eliminated the tax penalty for people who go without insurance.

The Trump campaign has already attacked Mr. Biden over health care, including by arguing that he poses a threat to private health insurance with his proposal to create an optional government plan.

“As President Trump is leading our country and taking unprecedented action to stop the coronavirus, Joe Biden is campaigning on his Bernie Sanders-inspired, socialist health care agenda, which would take away Americans’ access to quality health care,” said Sarah Matthews, a Trump campaign spokeswoman. “Make no mistake about it, Biden’s government-run ‘public option’ is just another name for a government takeover of the entire health care system.”

And although the Affordable Care Act has gained in popularity during Mr. Trump’s presidency, Republicans can still point to rising health care costs as a problem that voters want to see addressed. In that vein, Senator Bill Cassidy, Republican of Louisiana and a physician, cited the substantial premiums and high deductibles that many consumers have.

“Democrats have to have a credible plan to control health care costs,” Mr. Cassidy said. “If you look at what the No. 1 concern is, it is the cost of health care.”

In the Democratic primary race, the health care debate has largely focused on the divide between moderate-leaning Democrats looking to build on the Affordable Care Act and progressives calling for Medicare for all, a government-run health insurance program. Mr. Biden and Mr. Sanders represent the two sides of that argument.

Mr. Sanders, the Vermont senator, faces long odds at catching up to Mr. Biden in the delegate race, but he has remained in the primary and continues to push progressive policy ideas, including on health care. In response to the virus, he has pointed once again to the need for Medicare for all.

“It is nearly impossible to believe that anyone can still think it’s acceptable to continue with a health care system that leaves tens of millions of people uninsured,” Mr. Sanders said this month. “The cruelty and absurdity of that view is more obvious in the midst of this crisis than it has ever been.”

In a poll this month by Morning Consult, four in 10 Americans said the coronavirus outbreak had made them more likely to support universal health care proposals in which everyone would receive their health insurance from the government.

Under the single-payer system that Mr. Sanders is proposing, private health insurance would be eliminated — a potential political vulnerability that Republicans would most likely exploit in the general election if the Democratic nominee supported Medicare for all. Mr. Biden, who has repeatedly criticized Mr. Sanders’s health care proposal during the primary, does not share that vulnerability.

At one of his final campaign stops before the virus shut down in-person campaigning, Mr. Biden visited a community health center in Grand Rapids, Mich., where he spoke of his pride in having worked with Mr. Obama to pass the Affordable Care Act.

“I’m running to protect the progress we fought for,” Mr. Biden said. He cast doubt on Mr. Sanders’s plans for a single-payer system and spoke about the urgent need to improve health care — now more evident than even two weeks ago.

Talking about the patients at that clinic, he said, “They can’t afford to wait for a revolution.”

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How the Coronavirus Changed the 2020 Campaign

Westlake Legal Group 12campaign-virus-02-facebookJumbo How the Coronavirus Changed the 2020 Campaign United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Sanders, Bernard Primaries and Caucuses Presidential Election of 2020 Democratic Party democratic national committee Debates (Political) Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Biden, Joseph R Jr

WASHINGTON — For the past year, the Democratic presidential candidates debated the merits of sweeping liberal ideas, fretted over notions of electability and bias, and rose and fell in the polls as voters struggled to choose a front-runner. And through it all, President Trump sniped from the sidelines, demonizing the party and its 2020 contenders as socialists.

Almost overnight, everything has changed. Amid deepening uncertainty over a spreading virus and growing anxiety about an economic meltdown, that kind of classic presidential campaign ended and something extraordinary has begun: a real-time, life-or-death test of competency and leadership for those seeking the White House this November.

Over 18 hours from Wednesday night through Thursday afternoon, the three major candidates for the presidency, including the incumbent, made quick pivots to shape and guide the country’s new political discourse. It was an attempt to demonstrate how they would lead Americans across a muddled terrain of social disruption and stock market collapse, of worry about testing kits and concern about travel bans and crowd sizes.

Just hours after Mr. Trump delivered a wooden address from the Oval Office, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. sought to position himself as a sober steward of the national interest, delivering a speech echoing the language and tone of addresses given by presidents in moments of crisis. Mr. Biden also went much further than Mr. Trump in proposing a detailed plan and a set of goals on testing, increasing hospital capacity and supporting an accelerated push for a vaccine.

“This virus laid bare the severe shortcomings of the current administration,” Mr. Biden said, standing in front of a backdrop of American flags. “Public fears are being compounded by pervasive lack of trust in this president, fueled by adversarial relationships with the truth that he continues to have.”

With his sharp criticisms of Mr. Trump’s shifting statements about the crisis, and the administration’s inability to stem the falling stock market, Mr. Biden was also taking direct aim at Mr. Trump’s oft-heard arguments for re-election in November.

The spread of the virus is rapidly becoming a test of Mr. Trump’s core message: that despite the controversy the president creates, Americans are better off economically than before he took office and should stick with him, rather than siding with Democrats whom Mr. Trump portrays as feckless half-wits who botched the Iowa caucuses and much more.

Now it is Mr. Trump who risks looking out of his depth to many Americans, not only in protecting their health but also in guarding their 401(k)s.

Two hours after Mr. Biden spoke, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont — the other leading candidate for the Democratic nomination — warned that the death toll of Americans from the coronavirus could exceed the number of U.S. soldiers killed during World War II.

“We have an administration that is largely incompetent and whose incompetence and recklessness have threatened the lives of many, many people in this country,” Mr. Sanders said.

Get an informed guide to the global outbreak with our daily coronavirus newsletter.

The setting of the speeches underscored the unusual situation the campaigns now face. Normally at this time candidates would be traveling the country, rallying supporters at town hall meetings, fund-raisers and mass rallies. But both Mr. Biden and Mr. Sanders have curtailed their travel and canceled big gatherings because of the virus, and on Thursday they found themselves addressing small groups of reporters in sparse hotel ballrooms in their hometowns, Wilmington, Del., and Burlington, Vt.

Political strategists compared the virus to a hurricane, a deeply disruptive event likely to affect broad swaths of the country in unpredictable and devastating ways. The response to those moments can make or break a political career, they say.

“You don’t blame the elected officials for causing the damage that the hurricane ravages across the state,” said Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster with experience on presidential and Senate campaigns. “You evaluate elected officials on how they handle the situation.”

Even as the fate of the country’s health remains uncertain, the dynamics of the primary race are clarifying. After a series of primary wins, Mr. Biden now has a delegate lead that would require a nearly impossible turnaround from Mr. Sanders to overcome.

That leaves Mr. Trump likely to face an opponent whom he spent much of 2019 trying to destroy. Yet, in a moment of crisis, some Democrats argue that the country may turn to a creature of the Washington establishment, seeing Mr. Biden as an experienced hand.

“A lot of people, not just Democrats, are going to start looking to Mr. Biden and sizing him up. It’s a real-time test at some level,” said Addisu Demissie, who managed the presidential campaign of Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey. “Even though he doesn’t have authority, he can show and not tell what four years of a Biden presidency would feel like.”

In particular, Democrats believe the virus will help them hold more moderate, independent suburban voters who don’t like the president’s tone but have stayed with him because of the strong economy. The party won control of the House in 2018 largely on the strength of their support among those voters, flipping a number of seats in battleground districts. Exit polling from Tuesday’s primaries showed that a majority of voters saw Mr. Biden as the candidate they trusted most to handle a major crisis.

For rural voters, who are more likely to vote for Republicans, the economic ramifications could affect their bottom lines, particularly farmers and oil workers who are already hurting from trade policies.

Yet, the fiercely partisan moment in Washington has scrambled the politics of unity that traditionally kick into place during times of national crisis. The partisan divide is so pervasive that it has affected not only people’s feelings about the president’s response, but also their fears about the virus itself.

Roughly six in 10 Republican voters nationwide said they were not particularly concerned that the coronavirus would disrupt their lives, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released this week. Democratic voters were twice as likely as Republicans to say they are concerned

While privately concerned about the impact on the president’s re-election prospects, Republicans are largely following Mr. Trump’s lead in minimizing the worries over the coronavirus and blaming Democrats and the media for focusing on the deaths it has caused.

“One thing the press has not covered at all is the people who have really recovered,” said Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, a Republican ally of Mr. Trump’s. “Right now all people are hearing about are the deaths. I’m sure the deaths are horrific, but the flip side of this is the vast majority of people who get coronavirus do survive.”

In recent days, Mr. Trump and his administration have taken a more active hand in the public messaging around the response. But senior public health officials have frequently contradicted or corrected statements made by the president; in the late hours of Wednesday evening various administration officials corrected four separate policies that Mr. Trump had announced during his nationally televised address.

On Thursday morning, after news broke that the Brazilian president and his aide had both tested positive for the coronavirus days after dining with Mr. Trump at his South Florida hotel, Mr. Trump said he was not worried. The White House later said he had not been tested for the virus himself.

“Let’s put it this way,” Mr. Trump said. “I’m not concerned.”

As the election year progresses into unknown territory, the candidates must now find ways to motivate voters from a distance. A number of Mr. Biden’s donors and supporters were quietly nervous about the effect that the coronavirus could have on events large and small in coming weeks, saying it had injected a fresh measure of uncertainty into the race.

Scheduled Biden campaign events in Chicago and Miami are being transformed into “virtual events” ahead of next Tuesday’s primaries in Arizona, Illinois, Florida and Ohio. On Thursday, both the Biden and Sanders campaigns instructed staff members to begin working from home.

Mr. Trump appears to be stopping all campaign-related events indefinitely, which would remove a major political weapon from his arsenal as he moves into the general election campaign.

Beyond the rallies, the virus throws into question nearly every mechanism of modern campaigning. Already, officials in Arizona, Ohio and Illinois are scrambling to move polling places out of nursing homes — with early voting already well underway.

On Thursday, the Democratic National Committee announced it would move Sunday’s presidential debate to Washington from Phoenix to minimize travel. At least nine members of Congress have self-quarantined after exposure to the virus, including several who had interactions with the president. Across the country, political events are being canceled, including some state party conventions where the delegates who vote on the nominee are elected.

Democratic activists are exploring ways to expand their virtual organizing efforts through Facebook and text. Abortion rights activists are planning a “virtual call center” on Sunday to support a Democrat challenging an incumbent in the Chicago suburbs. The Democratic Party of Wisconsin on Thursday canceled all in-person voter canvassing ahead of the state’s April 7 elections.

“As a campaign, it is completely against every instinct you have: no fund-raising and no big events,” said David Pepper, the chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party. “In the final week of a primary that’s the opposite of everything you’d want to do.”

Yet the questions go well beyond mass events and voting and will only get more challenging the longer the virus continues to disrupt social contact. What’s a baby-kissing politician supposed to do when he cannot kiss a baby? How do you gather staff members in a war room, if they can’t be in the same room? Can volunteers go knocking on doors in affected areas? If the campaign moves even more online, can officials protect against a heightened threat of election interference and disinformation?

It’s not known how long the coronavirus and its aftereffects will affect the election or be paramount on voters’ minds.

“There’s a long time until the election,” said Corry Bliss, who ran the House Republicans’ super PAC in 2018. “Last month, the world was convinced the only thing that would matter in 2020 was impeachment.”

Giovanni Russonello contributed reporting from New York.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

How the Coronavirus Changed the 2020 Campaign

Westlake Legal Group 12campaign-virus-02-facebookJumbo How the Coronavirus Changed the 2020 Campaign United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Sanders, Bernard Primaries and Caucuses Presidential Election of 2020 Democratic Party democratic national committee Debates (Political) Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Biden, Joseph R Jr

WASHINGTON — For the past year, the Democratic presidential candidates debated the merits of sweeping liberal ideas, fretted over notions of electability and bias, and rose and fell in the polls as voters struggled to choose a front-runner. And through it all, President Trump sniped from the sidelines, demonizing the party and its 2020 contenders as socialists.

Almost overnight, everything has changed. Amid deepening uncertainty over a spreading virus and growing anxiety about an economic meltdown, that kind of classic presidential campaign ended and something extraordinary has begun: a real-time, life-or-death test of competency and leadership for those seeking the White House this November.

Over 18 hours from Wednesday night through Thursday afternoon, the three major candidates for the presidency, including the incumbent, made quick pivots to shape and guide the country’s new political discourse. It was an attempt to demonstrate how they would lead Americans across a muddled terrain of social disruption and stock market collapse, of worry about testing kits and concern about travel bans and crowd sizes.

Just hours after Mr. Trump delivered a wooden address from the Oval Office, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. sought to position himself as a sober steward of the national interest, delivering a speech echoing the language and tone of addresses given by presidents in moments of crisis. Mr. Biden also went much further than Mr. Trump in proposing a detailed plan and a set of goals on testing, increasing hospital capacity and supporting an accelerated push for a vaccine.

“This virus laid bare the severe shortcomings of the current administration,” Mr. Biden said, standing in front of a backdrop of American flags. “Public fears are being compounded by pervasive lack of trust in this president, fueled by adversarial relationships with the truth that he continues to have.”

With his sharp criticisms of Mr. Trump’s shifting statements about the crisis, and the administration’s inability to stem the falling stock market, Mr. Biden was also taking direct aim at Mr. Trump’s oft-heard arguments for re-election in November.

The spread of the virus is rapidly becoming a test of Mr. Trump’s core message: that despite the controversy the president creates, Americans are better off economically than before he took office and should stick with him, rather than siding with Democrats whom Mr. Trump portrays as feckless half-wits who botched the Iowa caucuses and much more.

Now it is Mr. Trump who risks looking out of his depth to many Americans, not only in protecting their health but also in guarding their 401(k)s.

Two hours after Mr. Biden spoke, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont — the other leading candidate for the Democratic nomination — warned that the death toll of Americans from the coronavirus could exceed the number of U.S. soldiers killed during World War II.

“We have an administration that is largely incompetent and whose incompetence and recklessness have threatened the lives of many, many people in this country,” Mr. Sanders said.

Get an informed guide to the global outbreak with our daily coronavirus newsletter.

The setting of the speeches underscored the unusual situation the campaigns now face. Normally at this time candidates would be traveling the country, rallying supporters at town hall meetings, fund-raisers and mass rallies. But both Mr. Biden and Mr. Sanders have curtailed their travel and canceled big gatherings because of the virus, and on Thursday they found themselves addressing small groups of reporters in sparse hotel ballrooms in their hometowns, Wilmington, Del., and Burlington, Vt.

Political strategists compared the virus to a hurricane, a deeply disruptive event likely to affect broad swaths of the country in unpredictable and devastating ways. The response to those moments can make or break a political career, they say.

“You don’t blame the elected officials for causing the damage that the hurricane ravages across the state,” said Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster with experience on presidential and Senate campaigns. “You evaluate elected officials on how they handle the situation.”

Even as the fate of the country’s health remains uncertain, the dynamics of the primary race are clarifying. After a series of primary wins, Mr. Biden now has a delegate lead that would require a nearly impossible turnaround from Mr. Sanders to overcome.

That leaves Mr. Trump likely to face an opponent whom he spent much of 2019 trying to destroy. Yet, in a moment of crisis, some Democrats argue that the country may turn to a creature of the Washington establishment, seeing Mr. Biden as an experienced hand.

“A lot of people, not just Democrats, are going to start looking to Mr. Biden and sizing him up. It’s a real-time test at some level,” said Addisu Demissie, who managed the presidential campaign of Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey. “Even though he doesn’t have authority, he can show and not tell what four years of a Biden presidency would feel like.”

In particular, Democrats believe the virus will help them hold more moderate, independent suburban voters who don’t like the president’s tone but have stayed with him because of the strong economy. The party won control of the House in 2018 largely on the strength of their support among those voters, flipping a number of seats in battleground districts. Exit polling from Tuesday’s primaries showed that a majority of voters saw Mr. Biden as the candidate they trusted most to handle a major crisis.

For rural voters, who are more likely to vote for Republicans, the economic ramifications could affect their bottom lines, particularly farmers and oil workers who are already hurting from trade policies.

Yet, the fiercely partisan moment in Washington has scrambled the politics of unity that traditionally kick into place during times of national crisis. The partisan divide is so pervasive that it has affected not only people’s feelings about the president’s response, but also their fears about the virus itself.

Roughly six in 10 Republican voters nationwide said they were not particularly concerned that the coronavirus would disrupt their lives, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released this week. Democratic voters were twice as likely as Republicans to say they are concerned

While privately concerned about the impact on the president’s re-election prospects, Republicans are largely following Mr. Trump’s lead in minimizing the worries over the coronavirus and blaming Democrats and the media for focusing on the deaths it has caused.

“One thing the press has not covered at all is the people who have really recovered,” said Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, a Republican ally of Mr. Trump’s. “Right now all people are hearing about are the deaths. I’m sure the deaths are horrific, but the flip side of this is the vast majority of people who get coronavirus do survive.”

In recent days, Mr. Trump and his administration have taken a more active hand in the public messaging around the response. But senior public health officials have frequently contradicted or corrected statements made by the president; in the late hours of Wednesday evening various administration officials corrected four separate policies that Mr. Trump had announced during his nationally televised address.

On Thursday morning, after news broke that the Brazilian president and his aide had both tested positive for the coronavirus days after dining with Mr. Trump at his South Florida hotel, Mr. Trump said he was not worried. The White House later said he had not been tested for the virus himself.

“Let’s put it this way,” Mr. Trump said. “I’m not concerned.”

As the election year progresses into unknown territory, the candidates must now find ways to motivate voters from a distance. A number of Mr. Biden’s donors and supporters were quietly nervous about the effect that the coronavirus could have on events large and small in coming weeks, saying it had injected a fresh measure of uncertainty into the race.

Scheduled Biden campaign events in Chicago and Miami are being transformed into “virtual events” ahead of next Tuesday’s primaries in Arizona, Illinois, Florida and Ohio. On Thursday, both the Biden and Sanders campaigns instructed staff members to begin working from home.

Mr. Trump appears to be stopping all campaign-related events indefinitely, which would remove a major political weapon from his arsenal as he moves into the general election campaign.

Beyond the rallies, the virus throws into question nearly every mechanism of modern campaigning. Already, officials in Arizona, Ohio and Illinois are scrambling to move polling places out of nursing homes — with early voting already well underway.

On Thursday, the Democratic National Committee announced it would move Sunday’s presidential debate to Washington from Phoenix to minimize travel. At least nine members of Congress have self-quarantined after exposure to the virus, including several who had interactions with the president. Across the country, political events are being canceled, including some state party conventions where the delegates who vote on the nominee are elected.

Democratic activists are exploring ways to expand their virtual organizing efforts through Facebook and text. Abortion rights activists are planning a “virtual call center” on Sunday to support a Democrat challenging an incumbent in the Chicago suburbs. The Democratic Party of Wisconsin on Thursday canceled all in-person voter canvassing ahead of the state’s April 7 elections.

“As a campaign, it is completely against every instinct you have: no fund-raising and no big events,” said David Pepper, the chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party. “In the final week of a primary that’s the opposite of everything you’d want to do.”

Yet the questions go well beyond mass events and voting and will only get more challenging the longer the virus continues to disrupt social contact. What’s a baby-kissing politician supposed to do when he cannot kiss a baby? How do you gather staff members in a war room, if they can’t be in the same room? Can volunteers go knocking on doors in affected areas? If the campaign moves even more online, can officials protect against a heightened threat of election interference and disinformation?

It’s not known how long the coronavirus and its aftereffects will affect the election or be paramount on voters’ minds.

“There’s a long time until the election,” said Corry Bliss, who ran the House Republicans’ super PAC in 2018. “Last month, the world was convinced the only thing that would matter in 2020 was impeachment.”

Giovanni Russonello contributed reporting from New York.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Elizabeth Warren Is Unlikely to Endorse Bernie Sanders. Here’s Why.

Westlake Legal Group 11Warren-Sanders-facebookJumbo Elizabeth Warren Is Unlikely to Endorse Bernie Sanders. Here’s Why. Warren, Elizabeth Sanders, Bernard Primaries and Caucuses Presidential Election of 2020 Endorsements Democratic Party Biden, Joseph R Jr

Senator Elizabeth Warren, whose endorsement became highly coveted in the Democratic presidential race after she dropped out last week, is unlikely to endorse her ideological ally Senator Bernie Sanders, according to several people close to her, even though Mr. Sanders is looking for political lifelines as he struggles against former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

Ms. Warren is expected to withhold her endorsement from Mr. Sanders as well as Mr. Biden at this point, choosing to let the primary play out rather than seek to change its course, according to several people familiar with Ms. Warren’s thinking who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss her considerations.

Even before Mr. Sanders lost four states in Tuesday’s primaries, dealing a huge blow to his presidential hopes, Ms. Warren was reluctant to support him, these people said. The spirited presidential campaign caused some rifts between the two liberals, including their clash in January over whether Mr. Sanders once told her that a woman couldn’t be elected president in 2020, an episode that deeply troubled her. Her camp also viewed Mr. Sanders’s electoral standing as fading in recent weeks, raising doubts about whether an endorsement would be a lost cause.

Ms. Warren has spoken to Mr. Biden once since Super Tuesday but multiple times to Mr. Sanders, as she and her team have fielded overtures from Sanders supporters seeking to coax her to his aid.

Some of the Vermont senator’s prominent online supporters have clamored for Ms. Warren to get behind his campaign, given how closely the two politicians are aligned on policy matters.

But Mr. Sanders’s highest-profile surrogate, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, said she understood Ms. Warren’s hesitation, and suggested it was a teachable moment for the left.

“I always want to see us come together as a progressive wing,” Ms. Ocasio-Cortez said. “I think that’s important and where we draw strength from. But at the same time, I come from the lens of an organizer, and if someone doesn’t do what you want, you don’t blame them — you ask why. And you don’t demand that answer of that person — you reflect. And that reflection is where you can grow.”

The lopsided results on Tuesday, when Mr. Sanders lost every county in Michigan, Missouri and Mississippi, further hardened Ms. Warren’s decision, according to a person close to the Massachusetts senator.

Those close to Ms. Warren say her foremost reason for not endorsing Mr. Sanders is simple: Since her exit from the race, his path to victory has looked unlikely. They doubt that Ms. Warren, even as the most prominent former candidate to have not backed another primary contender so far, could reverse Mr. Sanders’s fortunes at this point, and fear that she risks squandering valuable political capital if she tries to do so and fails.

It was also not clear what difference Ms. Warren might have made in addressing Mr. Sanders’s glaring vulnerability with black voters, with whom Ms. Warren had shown little sway herself.

Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, who endorsed Ms. Warren in her personal capacity, was among those who spoke with Ms. Warren after Super Tuesday.

“It made tremendous sense for her to stay on the sidelines so she could play the role of unifier,” said Ms. Weingarten, who declined to discuss her private conversation with Ms. Warren.

Brian Fallon, who worked for Hillary Clinton in 2016 and is now a progressive strategist, was doubtful that Ms. Warren’s backing would have significantly helped Mr. Sanders and said it might not have “sat well with the coalition she ended the race with,” which was dominated by college-educated white women.

“Why would she want to make her endorsement seem less powerful by giving it to somebody on a downward trajectory?” Mr. Fallon asked.

Four years ago, Ms. Warren stayed neutral in the Democratic primary between Mr. Sanders and Mrs. Clinton, and during the general election she used her influence among liberals to push Mrs. Clinton to make more left-leaning personnel choices in her transition team. “That was the template that she designed in 2016,” Mr. Fallon said. “Wait back, hold until the nomination is settled and then be very practical and hard-boiled about what your asks are.”

Most of the progressive groups and individual leaders that backed Ms. Warren do plan to support Mr. Sanders in some form, including the Working Families Party and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, which emailed its members encouraging them to support Mr. Sanders before the Michigan primary.

About 30 former staff members of Ms. Warren’s signed an open letter supporting Mr. Sanders. One former staff member tweeted that Ms. Warren’s unwillingness to support Mr. Sanders made her “really sad.”

Ms. Warren and Mr. Sanders have never been completely aligned as politicians, however, even if they broadly agree on the ills of unfettered capitalism and the need for major change within the Democratic Party. More than labels — Mr. Sanders identifies as a democratic socialist while Ms. Warren is a self-described capitalist — the two differ in political styles and tactics, which has become apparent in their presidential bids.

Ms. Warren has made a priority of forging a cordial tone with Democratic Party leaders, including a political program that sought to persuade even the most staunch moderates of her platform, often in one-on-one phone calls. Mr. Sanders has embraced the call of a political revolution, a far cry from the “unity candidate” message that Ms. Warren adopted before early nominating contests like Iowa and New Hampshire.

Adam Jentleson, who is close to Ms. Warren’s team and served as a deputy chief of staff to Harry Reid, the former Senate majority leader, said Ms. Warren and Mr. Sanders could be separated by one thing: their approach to the Democratic Party.

“Being president is about policy but it’s also about leadership and your approach to people, and that’s a big area in which they differ,” Mr. Jentleson said. “She values the Democratic Party. She thinks it has flaws but is overall a force for good. She doesn’t want to be on board with efforts to villainize or alienate many people who were the lifeblood of the party.”

However, the current distance between Ms. Warren and Mr. Sanders is also the result of a primary that tested their relationship in new ways. In January, reports surfaced that Mr. Sanders allegedly told Ms. Warren in a private 2018 meeting that a woman couldn’t win the presidency in 2020 — and he vehemently denied it, leading to a sharp post-debate exchange.

The next month, some of Mr. Sanders’s supporters lodged online attacks against female leaders in the Nevada culinary union who had declined to endorse him. Both instances extended past personal slights for Ms. Warren, according to those who were familiar with her thinking, and modeled what she viewed as inadequate leadership and poor coalition building.

Ms. Weingarten said she looked back at the January episode between Ms. Warren and Mr. Sanders as a crucial juncture in their relationship.

“There were a lot of really nasty emojis and tweets and other vituperative and misogynistic comments directed toward Elizabeth, and that was a moment Bernie could have stood really clearly and said, ‘Enough!’” Ms. Weingarten said. “I’m a pretty tough broad and it affected me. And I don’t get affected by this much anymore.”

“The candidates have a role at that moment to step up and provide moral authority,” she added. “People took note.”

“There was a sense of PTSD,” Ms. Weingarten said, harking back to the 2016 primary campaign against Mrs. Clinton.

Did it affect Ms. Warren?

“You can’t discount what happened over the last few months,” Ms. Weingarten said. “Let me just leave it at that.”

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Elizabeth Warren Is Unlikely to Endorse Bernie Sanders. Here’s Why.

Westlake Legal Group 11Warren-Sanders-facebookJumbo Elizabeth Warren Is Unlikely to Endorse Bernie Sanders. Here’s Why. Warren, Elizabeth Sanders, Bernard Primaries and Caucuses Presidential Election of 2020 Endorsements Democratic Party Biden, Joseph R Jr

Senator Elizabeth Warren, whose endorsement became highly coveted in the Democratic presidential race after she dropped out last week, is unlikely to endorse her ideological ally Senator Bernie Sanders, according to several people close to her, even though Mr. Sanders is looking for political lifelines as he struggles against former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

Ms. Warren is expected to withhold her endorsement from Mr. Sanders as well as Mr. Biden at this point, choosing to let the primary play out rather than seek to change its course, according to several people familiar with Ms. Warren’s thinking who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss her considerations.

Even before Mr. Sanders lost four states in Tuesday’s primaries, dealing a huge blow to his presidential hopes, Ms. Warren was reluctant to support him, these people said. The spirited presidential campaign caused some rifts between the two liberals, including their clash in January over whether Mr. Sanders once told her that a woman couldn’t be elected president in 2020, an episode that deeply troubled her. Her camp also viewed Mr. Sanders’s electoral standing as fading in recent weeks, raising doubts about whether an endorsement would be a lost cause.

Ms. Warren has spoken to Mr. Biden once since Super Tuesday but multiple times to Mr. Sanders, as she and her team have fielded overtures from Sanders supporters seeking to coax her to his aid.

Some of the Vermont senator’s prominent online supporters have clamored for Ms. Warren to get behind his campaign, given how closely the two politicians are aligned on policy matters.

But Mr. Sanders’s highest-profile surrogate, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, said she understood Ms. Warren’s hesitation, and suggested it was a teachable moment for the left.

“I always want to see us come together as a progressive wing,” Ms. Ocasio-Cortez said. “I think that’s important and where we draw strength from. But at the same time, I come from the lens of an organizer, and if someone doesn’t do what you want, you don’t blame them — you ask why. And you don’t demand that answer of that person — you reflect. And that reflection is where you can grow.”

The lopsided results on Tuesday, when Mr. Sanders lost every county in Michigan, Missouri and Mississippi, further hardened Ms. Warren’s decision, according to a person close to the Massachusetts senator.

Those close to Ms. Warren say her foremost reason for not endorsing Mr. Sanders is simple: Since her exit from the race, his path to victory has looked unlikely. They doubt that Ms. Warren, even as the most prominent former candidate to have not backed another primary contender so far, could reverse Mr. Sanders’s fortunes at this point, and fear that she risks squandering valuable political capital if she tries to do so and fails.

It was also not clear what difference Ms. Warren might have made in addressing Mr. Sanders’s glaring vulnerability with black voters, with whom Ms. Warren had shown little sway herself.

Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, who endorsed Ms. Warren in her personal capacity, was among those who spoke with Ms. Warren after Super Tuesday.

“It made tremendous sense for her to stay on the sidelines so she could play the role of unifier,” said Ms. Weingarten, who declined to discuss her private conversation with Ms. Warren.

Brian Fallon, who worked for Hillary Clinton in 2016 and is now a progressive strategist, was doubtful that Ms. Warren’s backing would have significantly helped Mr. Sanders and said it might not have “sat well with the coalition she ended the race with,” which was dominated by college-educated white women.

“Why would she want to make her endorsement seem less powerful by giving it to somebody on a downward trajectory?” Mr. Fallon asked.

Four years ago, Ms. Warren stayed neutral in the Democratic primary between Mr. Sanders and Mrs. Clinton, and during the general election she used her influence among liberals to push Mrs. Clinton to make more left-leaning personnel choices in her transition team. “That was the template that she designed in 2016,” Mr. Fallon said. “Wait back, hold until the nomination is settled and then be very practical and hard-boiled about what your asks are.”

Most of the progressive groups and individual leaders that backed Ms. Warren do plan to support Mr. Sanders in some form, including the Working Families Party and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, which emailed its members encouraging them to support Mr. Sanders before the Michigan primary.

About 30 former staff members of Ms. Warren’s signed an open letter supporting Mr. Sanders. One former staff member tweeted that Ms. Warren’s unwillingness to support Mr. Sanders made her “really sad.”

Ms. Warren and Mr. Sanders have never been completely aligned as politicians, however, even if they broadly agree on the ills of unfettered capitalism and the need for major change within the Democratic Party. More than labels — Mr. Sanders identifies as a democratic socialist while Ms. Warren is a self-described capitalist — the two differ in political styles and tactics, which has become apparent in their presidential bids.

Ms. Warren has made a priority of forging a cordial tone with Democratic Party leaders, including a political program that sought to persuade even the most staunch moderates of her platform, often in one-on-one phone calls. Mr. Sanders has embraced the call of a political revolution, a far cry from the “unity candidate” message that Ms. Warren adopted before early nominating contests like Iowa and New Hampshire.

Adam Jentleson, who is close to Ms. Warren’s team and served as a deputy chief of staff to Harry Reid, the former Senate majority leader, said Ms. Warren and Mr. Sanders could be separated by one thing: their approach to the Democratic Party.

“Being president is about policy but it’s also about leadership and your approach to people, and that’s a big area in which they differ,” Mr. Jentleson said. “She values the Democratic Party. She thinks it has flaws but is overall a force for good. She doesn’t want to be on board with efforts to villainize or alienate many people who were the lifeblood of the party.”

However, the current distance between Ms. Warren and Mr. Sanders is also the result of a primary that tested their relationship in new ways. In January, reports surfaced that Mr. Sanders allegedly told Ms. Warren in a private 2018 meeting that a woman couldn’t win the presidency in 2020 — and he vehemently denied it, leading to a sharp post-debate exchange.

The next month, some of Mr. Sanders’s supporters lodged online attacks against female leaders in the Nevada culinary union who had declined to endorse him. Both instances extended past personal slights for Ms. Warren, according to those who were familiar with her thinking, and modeled what she viewed as inadequate leadership and poor coalition building.

Ms. Weingarten said she looked back at the January episode between Ms. Warren and Mr. Sanders as a crucial juncture in their relationship.

“There were a lot of really nasty emojis and tweets and other vituperative and misogynistic comments directed toward Elizabeth, and that was a moment Bernie could have stood really clearly and said, ‘Enough!’” Ms. Weingarten said. “I’m a pretty tough broad and it affected me. And I don’t get affected by this much anymore.”

“The candidates have a role at that moment to step up and provide moral authority,” she added. “People took note.”

“There was a sense of PTSD,” Ms. Weingarten said, harking back to the 2016 primary campaign against Mrs. Clinton.

Did it affect Ms. Warren?

“You can’t discount what happened over the last few months,” Ms. Weingarten said. “Let me just leave it at that.”

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Bernie Sanders Will Remain in Race and Attend Sunday’s Debate

Westlake Legal Group 11vid-Sanders-Live-facebookJumbo Bernie Sanders Will Remain in Race and Attend Sunday’s Debate United States Politics and Government Sanders, Bernard Primaries and Caucuses Presidential Election of 2020 Democratic Party Biden, Joseph R Jr

BURLINGTON, Vt. — Senator Bernie Sanders on Wednesday made a defiant case for his candidacy despite suffering big losses in the Democratic primary this week, and said that he planned to continue his bid for the presidency and attend the scheduled debate on Sunday against Joseph R. Biden Jr.

Appearing at an afternoon news conference here, Mr. Sanders acknowledged that he was “losing the debate over electability” to Mr. Biden as voters flocked to a candidate they believed had a better chance of defeating President Trump. But in an extraordinary sequence that highlighted his ideological resolve, he addressed Mr. Biden directly and challenged him to explain to the American people how he would solve problems of health care, income inequality and other issues that make up Mr. Sanders’s liberal agenda.

“What are you going to do?” Mr. Sanders asked repeatedly as he ticked off a list of issues that also included climate change, poverty, mass incarceration and the criminal justice system.

His decision to continue casts more uncertainty over a primary race already upended by the coronavirus crisis, which has forced both candidates to curtail appearances before big crowds and to plan for a debate on Sunday without a live audience. Mr. Sanders made clear that he would persist in his efforts to win over voters, saying that “a strong majority of the American people support our progressive agenda” — even as Mr. Biden’s recent victories gave him a commanding advantage.

Mr. Biden won four states Tuesday with a broad coalition of African-Americans, suburban white voters and union members, and dealt Mr. Sanders a stinging blow with an overwhelming victory in Michigan, where Mr. Sanders had counted on his populist message to revive his flagging candidacy.

“Last night obviously was not a good night for our campaign from a delegate point of view,’’ Mr. Sanders said. But he asserted that he was “winning the generational debate,” saying that while Mr. Biden was appealing to older voters, he was drawing younger Americans, and that the party needed to build around the leaders of the future.

“While our campaign has won the ideological debate, we are losing the debate over electability,” he said, adding that many people had told him they liked his agenda but were not convinced he could prevail in the general election.

Mr. Sanders left the podium without taking questions.

With over half the delegates still to be allocated, aides to Mr. Sanders said they saw more fertile terrain in the coming weeks. They point out that Mr. Sanders lost Illinois by less than a percentage point four years ago and see strength in Wisconsin and Puerto Rico. Georgia, with its heavily black electorate, will most likely go to Mr. Biden, who currently leads Mr. Sanders in delegates, 800 to 660.

Mr. Sanders spent the morning at home with his wife, Jane, on Wednesday, while aides and advisers debated the way forward in his increasingly long-shot campaign. He canceled a scheduled conference call with surrogates, saying in an email to them that it would be rescheduled “so that we can better provide you with the most updated plans for upcoming states,” according to a copy obtained by The New York Times.

Top aides gathered Wednesday morning in the lobby of Burlington’s Hotel Vermont, surrounded by luggage tagged with Mr. Sanders’s name on it as they prepared for an early-afternoon flight to Teterboro, N.J., for the Vermont senator’s scheduled appearance on Jimmy Fallon’s late-night television show. After getting pummeled in the Super Tuesday nominating contests last week, Mr. Sanders incurred a similar drubbing on Tuesday night, including in Michigan, where he had deployed resources and time in a final attempt to regain momentum. Mr. Sanders watched the results at his home with his wife while his aides gathered elsewhere, and later he opted not to make any public remarks.

Mr. Sanders had planned to hold a Friday rally in downstate Illinois, an event that aides now say will not happen because of concerns about the spread of the coronavirus. On Tuesday, he canceled a planned primary night rally in Cleveland. It’s not likely Mr. Sanders will be able to hold his signature rallies — which provide the evidence, as he says regularly, that his is the campaign of energy and enthusiasm — in the immediate future.

Instead the Sanders campaign is planning virtual campaign events such as tele-town halls and live-streamed events. But it’s not clear how Mr. Sanders will demonstrate the energy he boasts about from behind a computer screen or over a telephone line.

On Tuesday night, his most prominent surrogate, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, told viewers on her Instagram live stream that the election results were a setback for the progressive movement.

Aides said Mr. Sanders viewed the debate on Sunday in Phoenix as his first and possibly last opportunity face Mr. Biden one on one. Some inside the campaign have said their last chance to compete with Mr. Biden may be if the national public gets to see the former vice president up close, pointing to his fourth-place finish Iowa as evidence of what happens when voters get to know him.

Mr. Sanders has about $9 million worth of ads booked through March 17, including a $2 million buy this week.

Nick Corasaniti and Alexander Burns contributed reporting from New York.

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Let’s Talk About Bailouts, Before We Need Them This Time

Westlake Legal Group 11sorkin3-facebookJumbo Let’s Talk About Bailouts, Before We Need Them This Time United States Politics and Government United States Economy Trump, Donald J Rattner, Steven L Presidential Election of 2020 Paulson, Henry M Jr Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Banking and Financial Institutions

Bailouts. Stimulus. Corporate socialism. Welfare for business.

We’ll be hearing a lot about the idea of plowing taxpayer money into the economy as the damage — human and economic — from the coronavirus outbreak leads to a conversation about government bailouts.

We’ve been here before, in fall 2008, when the U.S. government bailed out the banks and later the automakers. It, too, was a presidential election year. That was a man-made catastrophe. This one is more like a natural disaster, with man-made mistakes along the way.

The argument for bailouts back then was that letting the banks and autos fail would be so devastating for the economy — and politically unpalatable — that lawmakers had no choice but to save them.

But, if you remember, the recriminations came as quickly as the money: Were the terms too generous? Should taxpayers have received more for the risk they took? Should the money have come with significant strings attached that would change the structure of the companies and industries? Or, rather, should the money have gone directly to workers and other people hurt by the failure of the companies? Invariably, the conversation turned political, with calls that such bailouts were the equivalent of welfare for companies or corporate socialism.

Instead of having that conversation after the fact this time, let’s have it now, before any bailouts become a reality.

If, for example, the U.S. government were to lend money to the airlines, what should it get in return? Should shareholders like Warren E. Buffett — who owns stakes in Delta Air Lines, American Airlines, United Airlines and Southwest Airlines — be wiped out? Should the government use this moment to change policy in the industry by, for example, taking “slots” at busy airports away from the biggest airlines and giving them to upstarts to try to make the industry more competitive since so many airlines merged? Could the government force the airlines to become more customer friendly, with more transparent pricing and policies?

That may just be the beginning. With oil price falling, should the government help shale producers, as President Trump is reportedly considering? What about the cruise line industry? And on it goes.

We’re probably getting ahead of ourselves. But the conversations have already begun. Mr. Trump floated the idea of a payroll tax cut and help for hourly wage earners affected by measures to control the coronavirus outbreak. He made his case for the tax cut on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, and he is planning to meet with Wall Street bankers on Wednesday to press them to provide loans to small businesses.

Whatever the case, the biggest question is whether there would be enough bipartisan political will to spend billions of dollars.

Henry M. Paulson Jr., the Treasury secretary under President George W. Bush, told me that he thought the current challenges were similar but also very different from what he faced in 2008.

“I suspect that before it is over, there will once again be an urgent need in an election year for bipartisan support in Congress to work with the administration if we are to mitigate the economic burden on Americans,” said Mr. Paulson, who oversaw the federal response to the financial crisis in 2008 with Ben S. Bernanke, the Federal Reserve chair, and Timothy F. Geithner, president of the Federal Reserve of New York and later the Treasury secretary under President Barack Obama.

Mr. Paulson added: “In some ways, this is more complex because it also involves important health issues. This will once again test our political system, but I believe our leaders will rise to the challenge as our nation has always done in a crisis.”

If Mr. Paulson learned anything from the financial crisis, acting fast matters. But even in the panic of the 2008 crisis, Congress was so polarized that it did not pass stimulus measures until it was almost too late. (Congress voted against the proposal before voting in favor of it days later.)

The current Federal Reserve chair, Jerome H. Powell, has already lowered interest rates and says he stands ready to do so again, following a similar strategy to that of Mr. Bernanke, who flooded the economy with money. Only this time, lowering interest rates can go only so far: It will not get people traveling or dining out any sooner, but it could allow businesses to pay lower interest rates and help keep them solvent longer in hopes they can ride out the economic damage from the spread of the virus.

Mr. Powell has met with the president and Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, in recent days. Mr. Mnuchin mentioned the meetings on Monday as a demonstration of coordination. But unlike the tight relationship between Mr. Paulson and Mr. Bernanke, the relationship between the Federal Reserve and the Trump administration is seemingly strained. Mr. Trump has publicly attacked Mr. Powell, saying of his hiring Mr. Powell that he was “not even a little bit happy with my selection of Jay.”

Steven L. Rattner, who acted as the “car czar” in the Obama administration and oversaw the bailouts of Detroit’s automakers, said he believed there was still money available in the private markets to help. “I don’t think we are at that ‘break-the-glass’ moment.”

“Remember part of why the government bailouts existed was because private markets had failed. There was no private market,” Mr. Rattner said in an interview. “Today, we’re not yet in that position.”

He added, “If the airlines run out of cash, there is certainly debtor-in-possession financing,” suggesting that even if an airline filed for bankruptcy protection, there would be enough investors waiting on the sidelines to provide money to keep it going while it reorganized.

Still, it would not be surprising if the airlines — or other industries — went to Washington, hat in hand. After all, just Tuesday, Delta and American said they would slash flights because of lack of demand, and Southwest’s chief executive, Gary Kelly, said he would take a 10 percent pay cut.

When Mr. Trump was asked during a meeting between airline chief executives and Vice President Mike Pence how he would respond to a bailout request from the airline industry, he replied: “Don’t ask that question, please, because they haven’t asked that. So I don’t want you to give them any ideas.”

After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the U.S. government provided $15 billion to the airline industry, partly to offset losses as well as to help pay for additional safety requirements the nation adopted. In that case, the taxpayers did not seek anything in return.

Mr. Rattner said he thought it would be a mistake to use bailouts as “policy tools.” He said in the same way they thought about the auto bailouts, “we shouldn’t try to achieve every objective that might be imagined.” In other words, the government did not use that bailout to mandate new emissions standards, for example, or new safety standards. He said the goal was always simply to “get these companies back on their feet in a commercial way.”

Over the next several days and weeks, with Mr. Trump’s constant focus on the level of the stock market as a signal of his own progress, he is likely to seek large stimulus measures focused on businesses. Some of them may well be needed.

But if the 2008 crisis is any indicator, bailouts are a political morass with lasting effects. In this political environment, it is hard to believe there will not be a bitter fight.

Policymakers should get ahead of that battle and have the debate now — out in the open — about what a fair and right stimulus plan looks like rather than wait until time runs out.

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