Joe Biden is on the campaign trail. Donald Trump is in the hospital.
In a role reversal, the president who mocked his rival for being weak and hiding “in his basement” is stuck in isolation under doctors’ supervision while Biden jets off to states like Michigan on Friday and Florida on Monday, with the battleground map all to himself.
It’s a contrast the Biden campaign intends to sharpen as long as Trump is sidelined from coronavirus. Only a month remains until Election Day, and a record 3.2 million Americans already cast early ballots in 21 states, with Democrats out-voting Republicans so far.
“There is no reason not to show the country that, yes, you can go about your business — if you do it safely, if you wear masks, if you socially distance,” Biden adviser Anita Dunn told POLITICO. “The vice president has talked about this since March.”
The Biden campaign, under strict orders from the candidate to not speak ill of Trump personally while he’s in the hospital, announced it was pulling its negative ads out of respect to the president, though some still aired on stations that didn’t take them down quickly enough.
The positive-ad announcement had an ulterior motive, another Biden adviser acknowledged: To pivot to the closing argument stage of the campaign, in which the Democrat tries to rally voters with an uplifting case for change. Besides, that adviser said, Biden doesn’t need to say much about Trump’s struggles to contain coronavirus because, now that the president is hospitalized for it, it’s obvious.
“It’s harder and harder to see how Trump wins. What’s his argument?” said the adviser, who was not authorized to speak for attribution. “Donald Trump did everything to pretend coronavirus didn’t exist. Now there’s no way he can escape it.”