Biden pauses negative campaign ads following Trump diagnosis. Trump campaign refuses to do the same

Democrat’s gesture to take sting out of contest cuts little ice with his opponent’s camp

Richard Hall
Saturday 03 October 2020 01:26 BST
Donald Trump taken to hospital hours after testing positive for Covid-19
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It was shaping up to be one of the bitterest presidential campaigns in modern history. Just days earlier, the two candidates verbally brawled in front of a televised audience of 70 million people in what was widely regarded as a low point for American democracy.

But when Donald Trump and his wife Melania tested positive for the coronavirus, there was a change in tone.  

In response to the president’s diagnosis, Joe Biden’s campaign announced on Friday that it would be suspending all negative campaign advertisements. A campaign aide told the New York Times that the decision was made before Mr Trump was rushed to Walter Reed hospital.

The Biden campaign’s overture came hours after leading Democrats, including the Biden family, offered their well-wishes to their political opponents.

“Jill and I send our thoughts to President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump for a swift recovery. We will continue to pray for the health and safety of the president and his family,” Mr Biden said.

His message was followed by former president Barack Obama.

“Michelle and I hope that the President, First Lady, and all those affected by the coronavirus around the country are getting the care they need and are on the path to a speedy recovery,” he said.

“Obviously, we’re in the midst of a big political battle right now, and while there’s a lot at stake, let’s remember that we’re all Americans. We’re all human beings. And we want everyone to be healthy, no matter our party.”

But the bipartisan atmosphere did not last long. Tim Murtaugh, the Trump campaign’s director of communications, said there would be no reciprocal halt on negative ads from their side.  

“Joe Biden used his speech in Michigan today to attack President Trump. He’s in no position to say anything," he said.

In the speech Mr Murtaugh referred to, Mr Biden said: "This is not a matter of politics. It's a bracing reminder to all of us that we have to take this virus seriously. It's not going away automatically. We have to do our part to be responsible."

He then urged people to wear masks, and went on to criticise Mr Trump’s record on the economy.

Mr Trump, who is 74-years-old and clinically obese, is particularly at risk from complications from the coronavirus.

He was airlifted to Walter Reed hospital on Friday in what the White House said was a precautionary measure after reports claimed that he was suffering a fever and chills throughout the day.

The president will work from the presidential office at the hospital, officials said.

White House doctor Sean P Conley said the president is being treated with an experimental drug cocktail and is "fatigued but in good spirits."

Mr Biden, meanwhile, has said his campaign will continue apace.

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