Amanpour Presses for Biden to Hit Trump, Embrace Sanders

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Cross posted to the MRC's NewsBusters blog

On Thursday's Amanpour & Co., as she interviewed Joe Biden campaign co-chair and Democratic Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester, PBS host Christiane Amanpour made no attempt to press her from the right as the PBS host sympathetically wondered if the Democratic nominee would be critical of President Donald Trump in the near future during such a sensitive time, and also embrace parts of socialist candidate Bernie Sanders's far-left platform.

After beginning by asking about the challenges of running a campaign during the coronavirus pandemic, the PBS host's second question picked up on Democrats who want Biden to be more aggressive in hitting President Trump. Amanpour began: "Congresswoman, let me ask you, because it's a little bit of a delicate issue, isn't it? I mean, here we have a national and an international crisis, and many want to refrain from criticizing their elected leaders head-on while they deal with this emergency."

She then added:

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: But there are many in your party who are saying, "Don't you think Vice President Biden -- who's going to be the nominee -- needs actually to get out there and challenge what he might think of inconsistencies, a lack of leadership, whatever areas he might be able to offer an alternative narrative to what the President is offering. Is it the time? Should he not be out there over and over again, whether it's on social media, on television, or whatever?

In her next question, Amanpour brought up how Biden would try to win over Sanders voters. After noting that Sanders just suspended his campaign, she then added:

AMANPOUR: Here's what Joe Biden said when that happened. He said, "I hear you" -- this is about the Sanders supporters -- "I hear you, I see you, I understand the urgency of what it is that we've got to get done for this country."

And, of course, the issue is Sanders supporters and "Will they support the nominee, Joe Biden?" This is what Bernie Sanders said on television in the United States last night.

After a clip of Sanders talking up the possibility of Biden moving closer to him on some issues, the PBS host posed: "So, Congresswoman, does that mean that Vice President Biden is going to start moving on some of these very important issues? And what could he do to get that support that Bernie Sanders is talking about?"

Picking up on Rochester mentioning health care in her answer, Amanpour then followed up by raising the possibility that Biden would introduce some policy issues to placate Sanders voters:

AMANPOUR: And clearly health care has been put right into the spotlight with this coronavirus pandemic. But I just want to ask you just if you can confirm to me because sources have told the New York Times that Senator Sanders and Joe Biden are expected to roll out a series of issues and policies, sort of in tandem, or at least Biden is going to support some of the issues of Senator Sanders. Is that correct? Are you going to have any announcement, any rollout anytime soon?

There was no suggestion of whether moving too far left might hurt the Democratic candidate's general election chances. Other questions mostly focused on how the campaign would deal with the challenges of running a campaign during the pandemic.

Below is a transcript of relevant portions of the Thursday, April 9, Amanpour & Co., which airs on both PBS and CNN International:

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: Let me begin by asking you how, in the age of coronavirus, do you even run a campaign and then will even get to the general election?

[CONGRESSWOMAN LISA BLUNT ROCHESTER (D-NY)]

Congresswoman, let me ask you, because it's a little bit of a delicate issue, isn't it? I mean, here we have a national and an international crisis, and many want to refrain from criticizing their elected leaders head-on while they deal with this emergency. But there are many in your party who are saying, "Don't you think Vice President Biden -- who's going to be the nominee -- needs actually to get out there and challenge what he might think of inconsistencies, a lack of leadership, whatever areas he might be able to offer an alternative narrative to what the President is offering. Is it the time? Should he not be out there over and over again, whether it's on social media, on television, or whatever?

[ROCHESTER]

Let me just get to the issue of Bernie Sanders who dropped out or, rather, suspended his campaign, nonetheless saying that he was, you know, not going to end it and he was going to see how many delegates he could get in order to try to influence the platform at the convention. Here's what Joe Biden said when that happened. He said, "I hear you" -- this is about the Sanders supporters -- "I hear you, I see you, I understand the urgency of what it is that we've got to get done for this country."

And, of course, the issue is Sanders supporters and "Will they support the nominee, Joe Biden?" This is what Bernie Sanders said on television in the United States last night.

BERNIE SANDERS, CANDIDATE FOR DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL NOMINATION CLIP #1: I think what Joe has to do -- and I think what he will do -- is look at "What are those issues that young people and working class people who supported me -- what are they concerned about?"

SANDERS CLIP #2: So I think if Joe -- he's not going to adopt my platform, I got that, all right -- but if he can move in that direction, I think people will say, "You know what, this is a guy who we should support and will support."

AMANPOUR: So, Congresswoman, does that mean that Vice President Biden is going to start moving on some of these very important issues? And what could he do to get that support that Bernie Sanders is talking about?

[ROCHESTER]

And clearly health care has been put right into the spotlight with this coronavirus pandemic. But I just want to ask you just if you can confirm to me because sources have told the New York Times that Senator Sanders and Joe Biden are expected to roll out a series of issues and policies, sort of in tandem, or at least Biden is going to support some of the issues of Senator Sanders. Is that correct? Are you going to have any announcement, any rollout anytime soon?

[ROCHESTER]

AMANPOUR: So let me ask you this, then, because some people are saying -- well, they're saying a lot of things -- that, A, you need to get your digital and tech and social media game up because, as they say, and as many independent observers will say, President Trump has a very sharp and dominant role on social media. His campaign manager used to be his digital campaign manager, and they know what they're doing. So what plans do you have? Are you hiring new people? Are you going to be expanding more on social media because it's not just about television anymore, right? It's not about traditional media, particularly in this completely untraditional coronavirus campaign time.

[ROCHESTER]

So here's the thing, Congresswoman, as you know, consistently, national polls in a head-to-head put Vice President Biden about six points ahead of President Trump, but President Trump has a daily platform that he's using. Even the Wall Street Journal editorial today said he's using it like as a substitute for rallies now instead of sharp medical and general sort of protective and safety information. So even the Wall Street Journal Editorial Board said that. But the question is: How does Vice President Biden compete with that? And you talked about safety and you talked about, you know, the real difficulties in this coronavirus. You can't go door to door -- you can't have rallies -- you can't have fundraisers -- you need money, you need to get it somehow. And you need to make sure that you're going to be able to have the primaries and the general election. So what are you doing -- what is the party doing -- I don't really know the mechanics -- but what are you doing to make sure that if you can't actually go and vote, that there could be absentee ballots. I mean, really ramping up that absentee issue. Is that what's going to have to happen, I mean, maybe even in November?

[ROCHESTER]

Let me just ask you very briefly -- this is a probably a yes or no -- are you going to call on Michelle or Barack Obama -- the former First Lady and President of the United States who are the most popular politicians in America -- to come out not just and endorse but to campaign in whatever way they can for Vice President Biden?

[ROCHESTER]

And one final question because people have said: What is Vice President Biden's signature policy? Is it just beating President Trump? Or is there something specific? And we hear from many particularly in his foreign policy area that he is interested in global leadership. And, boy, if anything showed how much what happens in the world effects the United States and how much U.S. leadership or the lack thereof effects the progress of this kind of pandemic and what happens around the world, it is this now, right? So is that something that Vice President Biden is going to double down on? Because America is not leading the world -- it's leading America, but not the world like it used to on other various crises.

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