Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said Thursday that President Donald Trump will come up with some rationale to delay this November’s general election because of the coronavirus.
"Mark my words, I think he is going to try to kick back the election somehow, come up with some rationale why it can't be held. That's the only way he thinks he can possibly win," Biden said in an online campaign event, according to NBC.
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Numerous states have postponed their presidential primaries because of the coronavirus pandemic, including Georgia. On Sunday, Dr. Anthony Fauci said he "can't guarantee" in-person voting this November will be safe, according to CBS.
Biden and Democrats are repeating their claim that Trump and Republicans are making it harder for people to vote. The Democratic Party is making a major push to allow in-mail voting, which Trump and the GOP say would open up massive cases of election fraud.
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A new Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted last week shows Biden leading Trump by a 47% to 39% margin.
“We have to make it easier for everybody to be able to vote, particularly if we are still basically in the kind of lockdown circumstances we are in now,” Biden said Thursday. “But that takes a lot of money, and it’s going to require us to provide money for states and insist they provide mail-in ballots.”
Thousands of demonstrators have taken to the streets nationwide to protest lockdown and shelter-in-place orders, as the coronavirus continues to have not only health-related but also political fallout.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer — rumored to be on a short list of potential Biden running mates — has been a lightning rod over her state’s aggressive COVID-19 protection measures.
On Friday, hundreds of people planned on descending to Wisconsin’s state capital of Madison to protest the Democratic governor’s stay-home ordinance.
Nearly six months from the election, the protests are forcing some Republicans to reckon with a restless right flank advocating an unpopular opinion even as the party seeks to make gains with moderates, women and suburban voters.
A survey by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found 12% of Americans say the measures in place where they live to prevent the spread of the coronavirus go too far, though Republicans are roughly four times as likely as Democrats to say so — 22% to 5%.
A majority of 61% think the steps taken by government officials in their area are about right.
Still, a network of conservative groups has activated to support the efforts — seizing on the anxiety and distrust that comes with a moment of turmoil. Conservative groups with national networks, including FreedomWorks and Tea Party Patriots, have pushed the “reopen” message on social media.
The many unknowns of the pandemic — including what the death toll might be if restrictions like stay-home orders were lifted — complicate the political calculations.
Trump himself has positioned himself on both sides of the divide in the party. After issuing guidelines for states to reopen, he tweeted support for protesters who were violating them, calling on them to “LIBERATE” three states with Democratic governors.
He empathized with protesters, saying they have “cabin fever” and “want their lives back,” then criticized Georgia’s governor for reopening his state too early.
That’s left most Republicans — particularly those in tough reelection fights this fall — playing it safe by staying away from protests or from being overly vocal about reopening things.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com