According to a Saturday report from The Hill, the Republican Party’s strategy for the November elections has changed. Amid the coronavirus pandemic, the GOP is reportedly shifting its focus to China and ramping up rhetoric against the country’s ruling Communist Party.
Republican advertisements across the nation echo President Donald Trump’s attacks on China, which is being accused of irresponsibly handling the COVID-19 outbreak. The message has seemingly resonated with Trump’s base, which views China as America’s greatest enemy, according to polls.
However, it remains to be seen whether the GOP’s new strategy will have an impact on the American public’s perception since there are risks that it could be seen as an attempt to shift attention away from the Trump administration’s failures.
As Lanhee Chen, a former adviser to Republican Sens. Mitt Romney and Marco Rubio, explained, the attacks on China may be perceived as a diversion from the pandemic and the economic crisis COVID-19 has led to.
“The downside risk for campaigns of focusing on the political attacks against China is that it may appear as though they are trying to distract from these two principal questions,” Chen said.
Trump, who has waged a trade war on China, initially praised the country’s response to the novel coronavirus. However, according to The Hill, as soon as the pandemic reached the United States, devastating the economy in the process, the president’s rhetoric changed.
Since then, Trump has repeatedly tried to blame China for the outbreak, suggesting that its government is responsible for “mass Worldwide killing.” The president and his allies have gone as far as to promote an unsubstantiated theory that the virus originated in a laboratory in the Chinese city of Wuhan.
Republicans in the United States Congress have echoed Trump’s attacks. In a recent interview, Sen. Rick Scott of Florida called China “an enemy” of the United States.
“They intentionally didn’t tell us about the coronavirus. It was intentional… You can see it was intentional,” the senator claimed.
House Minority Whip Steve Scalise has argued that Democrats — led by Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi — do not perceive China as a threat.
“Speaker Pelosi has turned a blind eye towards [China]… I don’t know why they are covering for the Chinese Communist Party, but they are,” he said.
South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham has also called for a more aggressive policy toward China, arguing that the country needs to be sanctioned. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas has similarly suggested that China needs to be treated as America’s “greatest geopolitical threat.”