Democrats press Biden to resume negative campaign ads, despite Trump’s hospitalization
A growing number of Democrats are calling on Joe Biden’s presidential campaign to restart running negative ads against President Trump, even as the commander in chief remains hospitalized after contracting the coronavirus last week.
With the election less than one month away and early voting begun in some states, Democratic strategists have argued that Biden should resume his critiques of the president – a strategy that they argued has contributed to his lead in national polls. (An aggregate of polls by RealClearPolitics shows Biden ahead of Trump by more than 8 percentage points.)
“Our party needs to be careful not to handcuff ourselves by creating a situation where any negative comment about Trump while he is ill is considered out of bounds and will generate a cycle of negative press coverage,” wrote Dan Pfeiffer, a former senior adviser to Barack Obama, in a post titled “Now is the Time for Politics.” “We cannot stop making the argument that Donald Trump and the Republicans are too weak and incompetent to protect Americans – let alone themselves.”
Biden’s campaign said Friday, shortly after Trump announced that he and first lady Melania Trump had tested positive for COVID-19, that it would temporarily remove all negative ads and only promote positive messages. The Democratic nominee tweeted “this cannot be a partisan moment” after Trump was transported to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for treatment.
“At this point, Biden must share truth and facts even if they paint Trump negatively,” Amanda Renteria, the political director for Hillary Clinton’s campaign in 2016, told McClatchy DC. “There is simply too much the public needs to know in the most important election in our lifetime. It is critical that Biden also vigorously proceed.”
Kate Bedingfield, Biden’s deputy campaign manager, defended the decision to pull the negative ads during an interview on ABC’s “This Week.”
“Obviously, Joe Biden is somebody who believes first and foremost in civility,” she said. “He’s somebody who believes we can treat each other with dignity and respect. And so, we made that decision when we heard the news about President Trump’s health.”
Asked whether the negative ads would be stopped for good, Bedingfield said the campaign will “make that adjustment as we go.”
Trump’s campaign blasted Biden on Saturday for continuing to air negative TV ads while the president was hospitalized, despite pledging to do otherwise.
“Despite pledging to stop his negative advertising, nearly 100 negative Biden ads slandering the president and lying about his record have aired today while the president is at Walter Reed,” Andrew Clark, Trump 2020 campaign rapid response director, told Fox News on Saturday. “Meanwhile, Joe Biden has continued to attack the president in his speeches.”
But Biden’s campaign said it would take a day or so for the ads to be fully removed from the rotation and have contended that some of the ads are not negative, but factual.
The Trump campaign has not made any promises to take down negative ads against Biden as the former vice president continues to campaign, with just 29 days to go until the Nov. 3 election.
Fox News’ Marisa Schultz contributed to this report