Remember the Democratic primary season and the race to win the party’s nomination for president? It was a once-compelling news story, one that all but dominated the nightly broadcasts, and one that has since been almost completely subsumed by coverage of the COVID-19 global pandemic.
As that pandemic spreads across the country, state after state has postponed their elections. Today was supposed to be Georgia’s primary election, and with 105 delegates up for grabs, it would have been an important win for either of the two candidates still in the race, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders. But Georgia announced earlier this month that it would move its primary to May 19.
That now makes 10 states — the others are Maryland, Delaware, Indiana, Louisiana, Kentucky, Connecticut, Alaska, Hawaii and Wyoming — that have already announced postponements, with more likely to follow. And the head of New York’s Democratic party has recently suggested that that state’s primary might be cancelled altogether.
Biden, the all-but-presumptive Democratic nominee, as well Sanders, his lone remaining rival, have stayed off the campaign trail in the past week, reaching voters through live-streaming and remote TV interviews conducted over Skype. In a speech live-streamed from his home in Delaware on Monday, Biden criticized President Trump was slow to respond to the health crisis and to take it seriously.
“I along with every other American hope he steps up to get this right,” Biden said. Biden also said that “this isn’t about politics,” given how much is at stake.
In a tweet posted this week, Biden was even more critical of the president: “Let me be clear: Donald Trump knew about the threat the coronavirus posed and failed to act. It’s one of the most unjustifiable failures of presidential leadership in American history.”
How much has changed in this election season, and how quickly, was in clear evidence of The Rachel Maddow Show on Monday night, when Sen. Amy Klobuchar was one of Maddow’s guests. A few weeks ago, Klobuchar rode a strong debate performance to finish third in New Hampshire and was seemingly on the verge of breaking through into the top tier of the candidates. Last night, having dropped out of the race on March 2, she was telling the heartbreaking story of having her husband, Don, come down with coronavirus and not being able to visit him in the hospital.
“You want go and visit your loved one. I would love to be at my husband’s side right now; it is so hard,” Klobuchar said. “You want to talk to the doctor and be there. You want to see what the oxygen levels are. You want to bring flowers. And you can’t do any of that.”
At one point both she and Maddow seemed on the verge of breaking into tears, their voices cracking at they talked about the extreme isolation imposed on coronavirus patients and on those patients’ families. The two looked like they wanted to embrace in a virtual hug.
It was an emotion no doubt shared by a lot of MSNBC viewers at that moment.