The Atlantic Politics Daily: Running for President During an Epidemic

Out with the handshakes, in with the hand sanitizer—Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders have both canceled rallies planned for tonight. Plus: From “Never Trump” to “Why not.”

It’s Tuesday, March 10. Ordered here by the number of delegates up for grabs: Michigan, Washington State, Missouri, Mississippi, Idaho, and North Dakota vote (in ND’s case, by caucus) today.

In the rest of today’s newsletter: Out with the handshakes, in with the hand sanitizer—Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders have both canceled rallies planned for tonight. Plus: From “Never Trump” to “Why not Trump.”


(Charlie Reidel / AP)

Out with the handshakes, in with the hand sanitizer.

The raucous rallies and intimate retail politics that have been a hallmark of presidential elections are running head-first into the coronavirus outbreak.

Both Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders have criticized President Donald Trump for his handling of the outbreak, but neither candidate had before today taken any significant measures to minimize risk on the campaign trail and at their rallies. That changed today, when both Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders cancelled their pit stops in Cleveland.

Welcome to the coronavirus campaign.

How is the Trump campaign reacting? The president’s general-election mantra has been to paint his opponent—whether that’s ultimately Biden or Sanders—as a socialist who is out to stifle the free market. But the president’s own response to the epidemic isn’t exactly textbook Adam Smith.

The COVID-19 outbreak demonstrates the emptiness of these sorts of ideological labels. Just as there are no atheists in foxholes, in a national emergency, there’s no truly laissez-faire government.

Read my colleague Peter Nicholas’s piece here.

—Saahil Desai

(Getty Images)

1. “Tonight’s results will demonstrate whether Biden will continue to repeat the results of 2018.”

Six states, including key states such as Michigan, are voting (or caucusing tonight). Many Democrats say that Joe Biden will win delegates tonight because “many voters are thinking and acting much like they did in the previous midterm elections, when Democrats—thanks to historically high turnout—flipped 41 congressional districts and regained control of the House,” Elaine Godfrey reports.

For one: Six in 10 voters on Super Tuesday said they care more about nominating a Democrat who can defeat Trump than about anything else, according to some exit polling.

2. “Give people and companies money.”

Financial markets are in meltdown mode as the coronavirus courses rapidly and all too undetectably throughout the world. But there is a simple thing the U.S. government can do right now, which would both slow the viral spread and limit the economic harm.

“Perhaps that intervention strikes you as a non sequitur,” Derek Thompson writes. But the U.S. needs the financial assistance, and soon.

3. “For the first time in the eight years I’ve known my husband, we voted differently—I voted for Warren and he cast his ballot for Sanders.”

Politics has introduced tension between the writer Ellen O’Connell Whittet and her husband, and it has so many other families. In O’Connell Whittet’s case, the wedge was the choice between two progressive candidates, and she’s mad. Really mad.


(The Atlantic)

From “Never Trump” to “Why Not Trump”

When a handful of Republicans from the foreign-policy establishment signed onto “Never Trump” letters back in 2016, they thought their opposition to the future president would sway a few voters. But three years later, Trump has crushed the movement and won back the support of some of them, Kathy Gilsinan reports. Here is one confession.


Today’s newsletter was written by Saahil Desai, an editor on the Politics desk, and Christian Paz, a Politics fellow. It was edited by Shan Wang, who oversees newsletters.

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