The coronavirus has brought politics to nearly a grinding halt as all levels of government have rushed to respond to the pandemic.
At the forefront of that response has been President Donald Trump, Staten Island’s favored presidential candidate in 2016, whose approval rating has taken a hit during the pandemic as he and his administration have come under fire for downplaying the severity of the crisis early on, being slow to roll out coronavirus testing and his initial insistence to reopen the economy by Easter.
Trump’s handling of the coronavirus is likely to shape both his legacy as president and play a key role in how Americans vote at the polls come Nov. 3.
For Staten Island and South Brooklyn, Trump’s response to the pandemic could also determine how Staten Islanders and South Brooklynites vote in the closely watched congressional race. The “Trump factor” and how the president’s name at the top of the 2020 ticket will impact the Island’s race, has been a question mark for experts watching it play out.
The Island’s two Republicans vying to unseat freshman Democratic Rep. Max Rose — Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis, the favored candidate of the GOP establishment, and former Brooklyn prosecutor Joseph Caldarera, have sought to closely align themselves with the president.
Meanwhile, Rose, a centrist Democrat, and the Island’s second Democrat to win the borough’s congressional seat in three decades has had to tread lightly when it comes to Trump. He initially said he was opposed to impeaching the president but voted in favor of two articles of impeachment three months later after the president was embroiled in the Ukraine controversy. Despite voting to impeach the president, Rose later said he was willing to work with him when needed.
But when it comes to the president’s response to the coronavirus pandemic all three congressional candidates have agreed on one thing: They refuse to lay blame on the president for where the country is today in the pandemic, leading the world with the highest number of confirmed cases and deaths.
As of April 26, there were 957,875 confirmed coronavirus cases and 53,922 deaths across the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s latest figures.
They also say their campaigns have effectively been on hold to respond to the crisis.
CALDARERA SAYS TRUMP’S CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE HAS BEEN ‘GREAT’
Malliotakis’ GOP primary rival Caldarera said that overall, he thinks the president has done “a great job” in his coronavirus response.
“The president is certainly not to blame, first of all, the statistics of the United States having the highest number of deaths in the world comparing it to Italy for example, look at our population, countries compared to other smaller countries which I’ve seen, referenced in the media, but the people who are to blame are China and the World Health Organization for holding back the information from us for an extended period of time,” Caldarera said.
Caldarera said he believed Trump’s remarks about using disinfectant to treat the virus were “taken out of context.”
“Everything he has done from the beginning has been to help the American people through this pandemic and I think the federal response has been right on the money,” he said. “The response from our elected officials here in New York, however, is proving more and more disastrous every day.”
WHEN SHOULD THE COUNTRY REOPEN THE ECONOMY?
Caldarera said he thinks the economy should reopen “safely, but as quickly as our elected officials deem is responsibly possible.”
CONGRESSIONAL CAMPAIGNS ON THE BACK BURNER
Caldarera said: “I think all eyes are focused on getting through the coronavirus, I don’t think anybody’s top priority is this New York 11 race,” he said. “Politics comes second, getting through this crisis certainly comes first.”
April 28, 2020