Trump's 2020 play: blame China and the governors

Trump's 2020 play: blame China and the governors

A public health emergency with no end in sight and free-falling economy aren't ideal conditions for a leader to win re-election..

So, what's President Trump's sales pitch going to be? It's a long way from here to November, and it's hard to know what the 2020 "corona-campaigns" will look like. But over the past several days, two aspects of Trump's re-election strategy have become clear.

First, blame China for coronavirus. After all, Beijing hid information about the earliest coronavirus outbreaks, making it harder for the rest of the world to see what was coming. (In fairness, China's draconian lockdowns later bought the rest of the world more time to prepare.)


GOP leaders and conservative media outlets are now hammering China, framing the pandemic as the latest, clearest example of the existential threat that China poses to the USA. Trump's campaign, meanwhile, is painting Joe Biden, his election opponent, as an establishment politician who's been soft on Beijing for decades. Check the #BeijingBiden hashtag. For his part, Biden shot back with an ad framing Trump as too soft on China.

Here's the problem with this...For one thing, a rhetorical assault on China could jeopardize the fragile trade progress that Trump and Xi Jinping made last fall. It's one thing to wage a trade war on China when unemployment is at a half-century low of 3.5 percent. It's quite another when that figure could soon be six times as high. In fact, the administration has already begun suspending or deferring tariffs on Chinese goods, recognizing the hardships they pose for American firms in a time of coronavirus-induced economic distress.

What's more, America's hospitals need China's help to fight the virus: the US is still heavily dependent on Chinese-made medical equipment to properly equip frontline healthcare workers battling the disease.

So, Trump must tread carefully, which is one reason why his statements on China range from overt criticism (both on and off the record) to solidarity with China's President Xi Jinping.

The second pillar of his strategy is to play the role of "Grand Re-opener in Chief." He'll leave local authorities to sweat the details of how to balance public health with economic well-being, while urging governors to "reopen" and inciting insurrection against (Democratic) ones that don't. With more than 20 million Americans freshly out of work, Trump is looking to exploit understandable economic frustrations.

Here's the problem with that...Re-opening the economy too soon could re-inflame the public health crisis and, as a result, force a new economic lockdown. In that scenario, Trump would face epidemiological, economic, and political disasters all at once.

Ironically, the best situation for Trump politically is one in which ongoing lockdowns continue. They can keep the virus in check while allowing him to blame the economic damage on governors all summer. But with governors from his own party in key electoral states like Texas and Florida already moving to re-open earlier than public health experts advise, Trump could still find himself responsible for some very frightening results.

Okuafo Pa means good farmer in the Twi language of West Africa. Hence, the naming of the project reflects the value of good farming and the rewards it brings to the people of Ghana. The Okuafo Pa Project will support Ghana's sustainable development by promoting socio-economic growth and sustainable business models.

Watch to learn how Eni is helping youth to develop agricultural knowledge and skills.

Iranians head to the polls on Friday to vote for president, and it appears a foregone conclusion that hardliner Ebrahim Raisi, the nation's top judge, will win.

Outsiders, and many Iranians, roll their eyes at the predictability of this vote. Iran's Guardian Council, a dozen clerics and judges who answer only to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, has cleared the field for Raisi by ruling all of his credible challengers ineligible. The fix is in, and Iranians are now preparing for a moment when anti-reform conservatives, those who oppose social change inside Iran and deeper engagement with the West, will for the first time ever control the country's presidency, parliament, courts, and much of the media.

But simmering beneath the cynicism and predictability of this event is a deepening anxiety over Iran's future as it enters a potentially momentous period in the Islamic Republic's 42-year history. The Supreme Leader, in power for 32 years, is now 82 years old. Very few people know the true state of his health. Even if he outlives Raisi's presidency, which could last four or eight years, preparations for a historic, uncertain, and potentially dangerous leadership transition will intensify soon.

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Iranians head to the polls on June 18, in what's widely perceived to be a foregone outcome. Analysts predict that popular disillusionment with Iran's political class will make this one of the lowest turnout elections in Iran's post-revolution history. According to one poll taken by the Iranian Students Polling Agency, as few as 42 percent of the eligible voting population is expected to show up. We take a look at contemporary Iran's demographics, and how this year's vote turnout might compare to previous elections.

In 2019, Ethiopia's fresh Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed accepted a Nobel Peace Prize for his role in brokering a peace treaty with neighbor and longtime foe Eritrea. At the time, Abiy was hailed by the Western media as a reformist who was steering Ethiopia, long dominated by ethnic strife and dictatorial rule, into a new democratic era.

But barely two years later, Abiy stands accused of overseeing a campaign of ethnic cleansing in the northern Tigray region, putting the country on the brink of civil war.

It's against this backdrop that Ethiopians will head to the polls on June 21 for a parliamentary election now regarded as a referendum on Abiy's leadership. But will the vote be free and fair, and will the outcome actually reflect the will of the people? Most analysts say the answer is a resounding "no" on both fronts.

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Latin America needs vaccines: The World Health Organization has called on the G7 countries that pledged to donate a billion COVID vaccine doses to the developing world to prioritize Latin America, with WHO officials pointing to the fact that out of the top 10 countries with the highest COVID death tolls per capita over the past week, nine are in Latin America, where many health systems are overstretched and vaccines are scarce. This call comes as Latin America's COVID death toll has surpassed 1 million. Cases and deaths are soaring in Argentina and Colombia, for instance, while Brazil has fully vaccinated just 11 percent of its population despite recording the world's second highest death toll. Even Chile, which has carried out Latin America's most successful vaccination campaign to date, has been forced to delay reopening due to a recent surge in infections among unvaccinated younger people. The WHO says prioritizing the region for vaccine donations makes sense in order to stop large sustained outbreaks that may spur potentially more infectious COVID variants that'll cross borders and wreak havoc in populous states. Most of the donated shots will be distributed through the COVAX facility, which is a problem for countries like Venezuela, for instance, which is shut out from COVAX due to US sanctions imposed on the Maduro regime.

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3: China has launched three astronauts into orbit in its first space mission since 2016. The astronauts will spend three months aboard the country's new space station, demonstrating China's resolve to become a space power — following successful earlier missions to collect soil samples on the Moon and land a wheeled robot on Mars — in a bid to exert its superpower bonafides.

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Marietje Schaake, International Policy Director at Stanford's Cyber Policy Center, Eurasia Group senior advisor and former MEP, discusses trends in big tech, privacy protection and cyberspace:

Cyber issues took center stage at the G7 summit. Is there a consensus among world leaders on how to handle cyberweapons?

Well, depending on who is included, there is a growing consensus that the escalations of conflict in cyberspace must stop. And G7 leaders that are now all representing democracies did call on Russia to hold perpetrators of cybercrime that operate from within its borders to account. So, I guess hope dies last because laws in Russia prevents the extradition of suspects to the US, even if Vladimir Putin answered positively when Joe Biden asked for cooperation on that front. And when it comes to limiting the spread of tools that are used for hacking, surveillance and infiltration, the EU has just moved ahead and adopted new dual use regulations which reflect the concerns for human rights violations when journalists are targeted the way that Jamal Khashoggi was. So ending the proliferation of systems that are used to attack would be an urgent but also obvious step for democratic nations to agree on.

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Frequently called Europe's last dictator, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko Lukashenko has sailed smoothly to victory in all six elections he's stood in, despite widespread corruption and fraud in each one. But in 2020 the biggest threat so far to Lukashenko's tight grip on government came in an unlikely package—a former schoolteacher and stay at home mom, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya. After the election result was finalized, Lukashenko claimed victory, hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the streets, and Tsikhanouskaya leads the opposition in exile. Lukashenko recently took his boldest move yet, diverting a plane en route from Greece to Lithuania to arrest another Belarusian dissident. Ian Bremmer discusses whether a democratic transition is remotely possible in Belarus on GZERO World.

Watch the episode: The fight for democracy in Europe's last dictatorship

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