- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 18, 2020

CNN senior political commentator David Axelrod said Tuesday night that the coronavirus pandemic could boost President Trump’s chances of winning reelection in November because Americans tend to “rally behind the leader” during a crisis.

Mr. Axelrod, a chief architect of President Barack Obama’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns, said that even though Mr. Trump has canceled his political rallies to avoid spreading the virus, he still has a national platform to speak to Americans on a regular basis, which will make it hard for a Democratic candidate such as former Vice President Joseph R. Biden to beat.

“He has one big platform right now,” he said, Newsbusters reported. “We saw it today. He’s the president of the United States in the midst of a crisis. It took him a long time to acknowledge the depth of that crisis, but if he consistently appears to be wrestling with that crisis, this is a country that likes to rally behind the leader.”

He added later, “I don’t think we should underestimate the platform that he has here just as a pure political matter. And you know, Americans should be rooting for him to get command of this situation. But, you know, if you’re Joe Biden, you have to think about how do you run against a guy who’s spending hours on television every day talking to the American people about this mortal threat?”

Mr. Axelrod’s comments came as the results rolled in from the Florida primary, showing Mr. Biden as the clear winner and solidifying his status as the delegate front-runner against Sen. Bernard Sanders of Vermont.

Mr. Axelrod questioned Mr. Sanders’ motives for staying in the race, and said the Democrats are “going to feel the urge to unify” sooner rather than later because of the current crisis.

“The question for Senator Sanders is: Does it benefit the project of defeating Trump for him to stay in this race simply to make a statement or is it time to consolidate around Biden, and I think there will be an awful lot of discussion about that in the next few days,” he said.

Mr. Sanders’ campaign on Wednesday said the senator was reassessing his campaign, shooting down rumors that he was dropping out.

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