Trump Campaign Wants Coronavirus Ad Taken Down: Campaign Update

Ryan Teague Beckwith

(Bloomberg) -- The Trump campaign asked TV stations in swing states to take down an ad featuring the president calling coronavirus a “hoax” that his allies say is misleading.

The ad from Priorities USA shows the curve of U.S. cases growing from Jan. 20 to March 22 while featuring audio of Trump downplaying the threat during that time. “The coronavirus,” Trump says at the beginning, before a second clip plays, “this is their new hoax.”

The Trump campaign says the president was describing Democrats’ efforts to politicize the coronavirus, not calling the virus itself a hoax.

Fact-checkers at the Washington Post called a similar ad from the Biden campaign misleading, noting that the full comments from Trump at a campaign rally compared “politicizing the coronavirus” to the investigation into Russian interference and his impeachment.

“Because PUSA’s ad’s central point is deliberately false and misleading, your station has an obligation to cease and desist from airing it immediately to comply with FCC licensing requirements, to serve the public interest, and to avoid costly and time-consuming litigation,” notes a letter signed by Trump campaign special counsel Alex W. Cannon that was sent to stations in Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Pennsylvania, Ohio Back-Load Primary Calendar (5:11 p.m.)

The Democratic primary calendar just got a little more back-loaded.

Pennsylvania lawmakers voted to delay the state’s primary from April 28 to June 2 because of the coronavirus pandemic. And legislators in Ohio passed a bill extending absentee voting by mail until April 28, though they didn’t reschedule an in-person voting day to replace its postponed March 17 primary.

Pennsylvania joins Connecticut, Delaware, Indiana, Maryland, and Rhode Island, which all postponed primaries in April and May until June 2, when Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico and South Dakota already planned to hold elections.

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, who previously had recommended extending the primary to June 2, said on Twitter he will sign the bill extending mail-in voting. While early results will be reported on April 28, ballots postmarked by April 27 and received by May 8 will also be counted, delaying a full tally. In-person voting would be limited to the disabled and those who can’t get mail.Ohio’s health director ordered the state polls closed on March 17 after a court rejected a lawsuit with DeWine’s recommendation to delay the vote. The Ohio Democratic Party sued, challenging the June 2 date and proposing that people who haven’t yet voted be allowed to cast absentee ballots until April 28.

Biden Sees No Need for Another Debate (1:58 p.m.)

Bernie Sanders may be ready for another debate, but Joe Biden says they’ve had enough.

Having built a near-insurmountable lead in delegates and won three major union endorsements, Biden signaled Wednesday that he views the primary as essentially over.

During a livestreamed news conference Wednesday, he said he didn’t see the need for another debate, which the Democratic National Committee had previously said would happen sometime in April.

“I think we’ve had enough debate,” he said. “I think we should get on with this.”

That ran counter to the message from Sanders’s campaign on Tuesday. “Senator Sanders is still running for president,” said campaign official Mike Casca. “If there is a debate in April, he plans to be there.”

Biden Criticizes Florida Governor Over Pandemic (10:33 a.m.)

Joe Biden criticized Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s approach to the coronavirus pandemic, going after a key swing-state ally of President Donald Trump.

In a press release sent Wednesday morning, the former vice president said that DeSantis needed to provide “science-based action” on the pandemic, noting that he has not gone as far as the governors of New York, Illinois and California.

“While other large states continue to take strong, urgent, and sweeping action to stop the spread of COVID-19, Florida has not,” he said. “I urge Governor DeSantis to let the experts speak to the public and explain why this is the case.”

DeSantis, who won in 2018 after running ads in which he read “The Art of the Deal” to his young children, has taken a less aggressive approach to coronavirus than his peers, even as the number of cases in Florida has topped 1,200.

On Monday, he said he would not order residents to stay at home, saying that would cause a surge in unemployment, instead announcing that any visitors to the state from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut would have to self-quarantine for two weeks. -- Tyler Pager

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