Harris and Pence come to Wisconsin bearing two very different messages, while Biden and Trump accuse each other of politicizing the virus. It’s Tuesday, and this is your politics tip sheet.
Harris toured an electrical training facility on Monday during her first visit to a battleground state as Biden’s running mate.
Racing for the cure
If a coronavirus vaccine suddenly emerges on the eve of the election — less than a year after the virus was first detected in humans and far earlier than most health experts had predicted — will Americans feel safe taking it?
Speaking to reporters at the White House yesterday, Trump doubled down on recent comments suggesting that a vaccine could be available as soon as next month. “We’ve done an incredible job, and in speed like nobody’s ever seen before,” Trump said. “This could’ve taken two or three years and instead it’s going to be done in a very short period of time. You could even have it during the month of October.”
But Democrats are sounding the alarm — saying that rushing a vaccine could be too risky. On Sunday, Harris told CNN that she “would not trust Donald Trump” to provide truthful information about a vaccine. “I will not take his word for it,” she said.
Biden echoed that argument yesterday during an appearance in Pennsylvania, saying that he would want to consult with health experts before taking any vaccine approved by Trump’s administration.
“One of the problems with playing with politics is he’s said so many things that aren’t true,” Biden said. “I’m worried if we do have a really good vaccine, people are going to be reluctant to take it.”
“But pray God, we have it,” he added. “If I could get a vaccine tomorrow, I’d do it. If it cost me the election, I’d do it. We need a vaccine, and we need it now.”
Americans continue to broadly disapprove of Trump’s handling of the coronavirus crisis, and polls show that most voters say they would trust Biden over Trump to confront the pandemic. In a conference call with reporters on Friday, top Biden campaign officials affirmed their intention to keep the virus front and center during the race’s final months.
But Trump, it appears, is hoping that an expedited vaccine could provide him with an ace in the hole — neutralizing Biden’s most potent critique and turning voters’ attention more squarely to the economy and matters of race and policing.
Typically it takes years for a virus vaccine to be safely developed, but Stephen Hahn, the head of the Food and Drug Administration, has said he is willing to skip the normal approval process to fast-track a coronavirus vaccine. He has insisted, however, that he would not let political considerations factor into his decision-making.
Earlier this month, Robert Redfield, the country’s top public health official, instructed governors to accelerate the process of opening immunization centers, in preparation for the unveiling of a national vaccination program.