The TAKE with Rick Klein
President Donald Trump has perhaps never looked this vulnerable as a candidate. The same might be said of former Vice President Joe Biden.
Trump has cut back his public commentary on COVID-19 in recent days, in a tacit acknowledgment that his daily, contradiction-filled news conferences weren’t helping his standing during this critical reopening phase.
Biden, though, hasn’t rushed to fill any perceived void. He still hasn’t emerged from his basement and he has curtailed his media appearances as he has faced questions about a sexual assault allegation that is forcing Democrats to have uncomfortable conversations about the #metoo movement.
Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden delivers remarks about the coronavirus outbreak, at the Hotel Du Pont March 12, 2020 in Wilmington, Delaware.Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden delivers remarks about the coronavirus outbreak, at the Hotel Du Pont March 12, 2020 in Wilmington, Delaware.Drew Angerer/Getty Images
His campaign is now caught in a loop around documents in the Tara Reade case. They are asking for Senate records to be released that apparently can’t and won’t be, while saying the records Biden does control aren’t relevant and won’t be opened up.
Broader concerns are breaking through — and not just from the left. Two architects of the successful Obama-Biden campaigns are out with a New York Times op-ed arguing that Biden needs to be taking advantage of this moment in terms of digital organizing, social media and leveraging of surrogates.
“In the midst of a catastrophic virus and devastating economic coma that command our full attention, Mr. Biden finds himself on the outside looking in,” David Axelrod and David Plouffe write. “In order to break through and be heard, he will have to up the tempo of his campaign.”
Axelrod and Plouffe are offering constructive criticism when they write things like “‘Biden in the Basement’ is not a strong enough show to hold the audience.” They are giving voice to concerns that extend far beyond Obama alumni, though.
Six months before Election Day, both parties face an entirely changed political landscape. Democrats’ concerns stem from confidence that Trump can adjust by using tools he has and designing some new ones — and they worry that Biden can’t keep pace.
The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks
Washington officials said Monday that the city’s Latino population has the highest coronavirus infection rate per capita in the nation’s capital. The heavily Hispanic Columbia Heights neighborhood is among the hardest hit, said Mayor Muriel Bowser.
The city’s Health Department Director Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt said Latino/Hispanic residents are seeing 1,200 infections per 100,000 residents, compared to 820 infections per 100,000 residents for blacks and 175 per 100,000 for whites. Half of the 24 infants in the district who have been infected are Latino, Nesbitt said. The latest census figures put the district’s Hispanic/Latino population at just over 11%.
Dr. LaQuandra S. Nesbitt, Director, DC Department of Health, left, speaks during a news conference about the District's monitoring, preparation, and response to the coronavirus Tuesday, March 3, 2020, in Washington.Dr. LaQuandra S. Nesbitt, Director, DC Department of Health, left, speaks during a news conference about the District's monitoring, preparation, and response to the coronavirus Tuesday, March 3, 2020, in Washington.Luis M. Alvarez/AP Photo
As has been the case in other hotspots, African Americans too are making up a disproportionately high number of coronavirus-related deaths in Washington — approximately 80% of COVID-19 fatalities, although African Americans only make up 46% of the population in the city.
“The disparities and the impact to the Hispanic and Latino and African American and black communities are stark … we need to be more attentive,” Nesbitt said at a news conference Tuesday, promising to look for opportunities for focused work and intervention.
As D.C. officials seemed to note, placing blame, pointing fingers or associating this virus only with communities of color will not help solve this problem nor save lives. Instead, there will need to be a more robust conversation at the national and local level about the reality that some residents are at greater risk because of their jobs, exposure, living situation and access to care.
The TIP with Molly Nagle and Johnny Verhovek
Questions about any records related to a claim of sexual assault against Biden by Reade remain after the secretary of the Senate indicated they have “no discretion to disclose any such information as requested” by Biden to locate and release any complaint that exists against him.
The secretary’s office was advised by Senate legal counsel that the Office of Senate Fair Employment Practices — where the former staffer’s complaint would likely have been filed — has “strict confidentiality requirements.”
Secretary of the Senate Julie Adams prepares to testify during a Senate Appropriations Legislative Branch Subcommittee hearing.Secretary of the Senate Julie Adams prepares to testify during a Senate Appropriations Legislative Branch Subcommittee hearing.Tom Williams/AP Photo
Biden’s campaign sought further clarity. In a response to the secretary of the Senate, the campaign asked if the existence of a complaint could legally be released, if the complaint could be released to the party who initially filed it and for more information on the procedure that was undertaken when a complaint — like the one Reade says she filed in 1993 — was received.
However, in a response Monday evening, the secretary’s office noted that release or acknowledgement of any complaint — even to the original filer — would be prohibited. It would be within the Senate’s authority to pass legislation to allow for the release of this information, but when asked earlier Monday if that was a possibility, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell demurred, referring ABC News back to the secretary’s initial release.
BRINGING AMERICA BACK
The number of air travelers is down more than 90% in the U.S. due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the TSA — but U.S. airlines are gearing up. Read this story and more by checking out Bringing America Back, an ABC News feature that highlights the day’s top stories in economic recovery and medical preparedness amid the coronavirus pandemic.
ABC News’ “Start Here” Podcast. Tuesday morning’s episode features former acting head of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid under President Obama Andy Slavitt, who discusses why the coronavirus death toll will likely be much higher than officials have been projecting. ABC News Chief Business and Economics correspondent Rebecca Jarvis explains what J. Crew’s bankruptcy filing could tell us about the future of retail stores. And, ESPN’s Tisha Thompson brings us up to speed on how college and pro sports leagues are planning on returning to action. http://apple.co/2HPocUL
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY