Democracy 2020 Digest: Cuomo's profile rises amid coronavirus storm

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is grabbing plenty of attention.

He’s warned that the coronavirus outbreak is spreading as fast as “a bullet train” and stressed that tens of thousands of New Yorkers “are going to die” unless President Trump and the federal government speed up delivery of promised ventilators.

The three-term governor of the state that, by far, has been the hardest hit by the pandemic has become an instant national media star and the politician of the moment. Cuomo’s style at daily coronavirus briefings, which the national cable networks carry live, are garnering bipartisan praise for his tempered disposition – a vivid contrast to President Trump’s occasional and controversial verbal fistfights with some reporters.

CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

And Cuomo’s grabbing plenty of positive headlines.

“How Cuomo, once on sidelines, became the politician of the moment,” read a recent headline from the New York Times. A CNN analysis was titled “Everyone needs to see Andrew Cuomo’s inspiring words on the fight against coronavirus.” And a GQ headline read “In a moment of information overload, Governor Andrew Cuomo dresses for facts only.”

Even conservative outlets are also praising the three-term governor. The New York Post spotlighted that “#PresidentCuomo trends as governor’s star status rises over coronavirus response.” And the National Review asked “Could a ‘Draft Cuomo’ movement be in the Democrats’ future?”

The media blitz comes as former Vice President Joe Biden – the all-but-certain Democratic presidential nominee – struggles to increase his media footprint that was instantly erased last week as the coronavirus outbreak wiped the White House race from the headlines and froze the Democratic nomination battle in place. Without any formal current role in government, Biden has no direct role in combating the crisis and has been overshadowed both by Trump’s daily briefings as well as Cuomo’s meteoric media rise in recent days.

BIDEN TEMPERS ATTACKS ON TRUMP AS CORONAVIRUS CRISIS BUILDS

But add Biden to the growing list of people praising Cuomo over the past week. The former vice president’s repeatedly given the New York governor shoutouts since Friday.

“#DraftCuomo” and “#AndrewforAmerica” hashtags have also popped up on Twitter and there’s now a @DraftCuomo2020 Twitter handle. But talk of a potential Cuomo draft movement is just talk right now. Cuomo’s brushed aside campaign hypotheticals as he combats the coronavirus in his state and the odds against him getting drafted as his party’s presidential nominee are daunting at this moment.

End of debates?

Biden says he’s “had enough” of the Democratic presidential primary debates and that it’s time to “get on with this.”

Asked on a conference call Wednesday with reporters if there should be another primary debate in April – Biden answered that “my focus is just dealing with this crisis right now. I haven’t thought about any more debates. I think we’ve had enough debates. I think we should get on with this.”

Biden’s comments came one day after the campaign of the only other remaining Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, told The New York Times that if there’s a Democratic presidential primary debate in April, their candidate expects to participate.

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Biden’s Green push

The former vice president – during his briefing with reporters on Wednesday – seemed to call for including climate change legislation in the next bill Congress passes to jump-start an economy flattened by the coronavirus outbreak as many Americans huddle at home in order to prevent the spread of the pandemic.

“We’re going to have an opportunity, I believe, in the next round [of economic aid] here to use…my Green Deal to be able to generate both economic growth as consistent with the kind of infusion of monies we need into the system to keep it going,” Biden said.

Last year, as he unveiled his plan to combat climate change, Biden embraced parts of the “Green New Deal,” the massive framework authored by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts that’s been praised by progressives and lambasted by conservatives.

President Trump’s reelection campaign on Wednesday quickly jabbed at Biden, tweeting that “Joe Biden wants to ‘use’ the #coronavirus crisis as an ‘opportunity’ to pass his version of the #GreenNewDeal in the ‘next round’ of emergency legislation.”

Toning things down?

Biden continues to take aim President Trump’s response to the coronavirus outbreak. But he has seemingly tempered his comments this week compared to the language he used just a few days ago.

“The American people are rising to meet this moment. We need our president to do the same,” the all-but-certain Democratic presidential nominee wrote on Twitter on Wednesday.

Biden’s repeatedly called out Trump for what many critics charge is a continued downplaying of the severity of the pandemic.

But compare that to how Biden – on a conference call with reporters on Friday — urged Trump to “stop saying false things,” saying, “People are worried. They are really frightened. And when these things don’t come true, you just exacerbate their concern. Stop saying false things [you] think make you sound like a hero.”

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