A Complicated Friendship

A Complicated Friendship

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With the coronavirus outbreak threatening global health and markets, Michael Bloomberg’s presidential campaign will start telling voters in all 50 states tomorrow that the country is unprepared for a possible public health crisis, and that the fault lies with President Trump.

In its latest attack on the president, the Bloomberg campaign is seizing on an issue that is bringing a wave of anxiety to the country — and instantly assigning political blame.

The message: The ad uses clips from somber and stern news reports to make clear the sudden spread of the coronavirus, and its economic impact. Mr. Trump is said to be particularly concerned about the virus’s potential to further disrupt financial markets.

But, as with most of Mr. Bloomberg’s negative ads against the president, the message switches halfway through to paint Mr. Bloomberg as crisis-tested and able to lead through a public health emergency, and it uses post-9/11 imagery to drive home the point.

The takeaway: The ad will begin running the morning after Mr. Trump’s televised address on the virus on Wednesday evening. While news reports would very likely be replaying the president’s remarks, the ad from the Bloomberg campaign could inject an unfavorable message into the coverage of the Trump administration’s response.

But in running an ad on the global crisis, the Bloomberg campaign also runs the risk of appearing to exploit an epidemic, and all of the anxiety that accompanies it, for political gain.


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