COVID-19 has changed the way the 2020 presidential race is being conducted. Democratic candidates have suspended rallies in response to the growing threat of the virus.candidates, Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden, have both updated their campaign websites to include their plans for combatting the COVID-19 pandemic. However, while Sanders had been hosting video chats on Twitch on the pandemic, Biden disappeared from the public eye.
A week later, on March 16, Biden made his reappearance with a virtual town hall alongside a former surgeon general to answer questions relating to the coronavirus. This was the first mention of the coronavirus from Biden that was not a social media post, and his only response until March 24, when he began holding discussions on COVID-19 from his in-home studio.
One week is a long time in the political world to be absent, and only addressing the public once is not ideal. Despite the ongoing pandemic, the Democratic candidates are still in a race to get the nomination. The ideal nominee should be the person who is talking to the public and telling them what action is being taken.
Biden is posting frequently on Facebook and Twitter about COVID-19, but the posts could easily be made by a media coordinator. If Biden wanted to calm public nerves, he should have released a statement earlier in person on his plan for the pandemic.
Compare his response to Sanders’. Sanders is hosting coronavirus roundtables constantly and even hosted a digital rally. Though many weren’t sure if someone could effectively campaign all online, Sanders came out of the gate strongly by hosting chats and livestreams. Sanders also used his campaign to raise $2 million for coronavirus charities.
A candidate’s campaign can be seen as how the candidate will behave in office. During this time of crisis, Democrat voters will look for guidance and leadership. If Biden goes AWOL for a week with no explanation amid a pandemic, how would he react to it as president? If Biden was worried about the spread of COVID-19 and wanted to keep himself contained, all he needed to do was say so.
There is no video or record of what was said besides writing.
The next presidential nominee should communicate with the public, not keep everyone in the dark. Not being prepared to campaign online is understandable, but telling the public your plans directly is a step in the right direction.
While anything can happen from now until the last primary, it is concerning that the man who many consider the expected nominee did not contribute much in the way of talking to the public about COVID-19.