The National Republican Senatorial Committee has sent out a 57-page memo advising GOP candidates how to address the coronavirus crisis during the 2020 campaign, Politico reported Friday.
The linchpin of the ludicrous strategy put forth in the document is to avoid mentioning President Donald Trump’s role during the national emergency.
The political consulting firm O’Donnell & Associates, headed by Brett O’Donnell, authored the memo. O’Donnell, described by Politico as a “top Republican strategist,” has advised numerous candidates, including failed GOP presidential nominees Mitt Romney and John McCain.
The memo recommends that Senate candidates focus on bashing China as the COVID-19 culprit rather than defending the impressive leadership of Trump during one of the worst calamities in American history.
In essence, the document advises Republican Senate candidates to distance themselves from Trump.
“Don’t defend Trump, other than the China Travel Ban — attack China,” the April 17 memo says.
Candidates are encouraged to declare how they will be tough on China and contrast that with Democrats, who should be presented as too soft.
“China caused this pandemic by covering it up, lying, and hoarding the world’s supply of medical equipment,” the memo says, spurring candidates to keep the blame for the pandemic squarely on the Chinese Communist Party.
The document offers a summary of how candidates should portray their plans if elected: “I will stand up to China, bring our jobs back home, and push for sanctions on the Chinese Communist Party.”
The strategy of painting the Democrats as soft on China already has been used by the Trump campaign, which released a video earlier this month depicting presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden as a defender of the communist regime.
Absent among the detailed recommendations in the memo is a thorough review of the many actions Trump and the White House coronavirus task force have undertaken to get the nation through the pandemic.
These include not just a China travel ban but also banning travel from 26 European nations, temporarily halting immigration, marshaling top scientists to lead a task force, invoking the Defense Production Act to produce needed supplies, working in coordination with the states to ensure they receive adequate equipment, and signing trillion-dollar stimulus bills to bolster the economy during the lockdown. Trump also signed an executive order to help keep meat plants open amid fears of a disruption in our food supply.
Each of these actions required herculean efforts.
Yet this strategy memo presents the portrait of a nation without leadership from the very top.
More than this, the missive reeks of being embarrassed by Trump.
The president’s aides were rightly incensed when the news of this document surfaced, according to a report in Politico on Monday. In response to the fury, both the NRSC and O’Donnell insisted they are ardent Trump supporters and are unified with his re-election campaign.
However, it is difficult to read the statements in the memo as inoffensive to the president.
“I wish that everyone acted earlier — that includes our elected officials, the World Health Organization, and the CDC,” the memo recommends as an answer to questions on whether the virus is Trump’s fault.
This is hardly a ringing endorsement of the president’s actions.
The campaign arm of the Senate GOP should be working in unity with Trump at this key moment rather than at cross-purposes.
Can the GOP really get its candidates elected in both the House and Senate without tying the races directly to the president’s record? The Republican Party is already linked with Trump in the public mind; it is impossible to create a separation that can be effective.
In addition, the mainstream media have been relentless in their blistering assaults on Trump’s handling of the crisis. Meanwhile, the alternative viewpoint is being dwarfed.
Thus a failure to boldly defend Trump’s actions on the pandemic is a guaranteed recipe for electoral disaster.
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