The coronavirus outbreak has dramatically shifted the 2020 presidential race, diminishing President Donald Trump’s poll numbers in key states and forcing former Vice President Joe Biden to address the nation from his basement.
In a newly released interview, taped on Friday, former U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker — who served under Barack Obama and alongside Biden — says the Biden campaign has emerged from the crowded primary in a favorable position, highlighting how Biden would address the public health and economic crises created by the pandemic.
“The campaign stands in a really good place for the vice president,” says Pritzker. “Biden is the right man for the top this time.”
Pritzker, a billionaire heir to the Hyatt Hotel fortune and sister of Democratic Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker, endorsed Biden’s candidacy in January.
‘Decisive in the economic response’
If elected president, Biden would draw on medical and scientific professionals to address the coronavirus outbreak, Pritzker said, as confirmed cases in the U.S. now top 1 million. She pointed to his experience in the Obama administration as the U.S. helped fight the H1N1 outbreak in 2009 and the Ebola outbreak in West Africa in 2014.
Biden would effectively respond to the public health risks “by giving clear direction, by relying on experts, [and] by having wide availability of free testing,” she says.
“He would also be decisive in the economic response,” she adds. “He would be really concerned about workers and making sure that they're receiving the support.”
Trump has drawn widespread criticism over his response to the coronavirus pandemic. A false remark made by Trump last week that the injection of disinfectants could combat the coronavirus drew widespread criticism, even from some within his party. The next day, Trump shouted at his re-election campaign manager Brad Parscale over flagging poll numbers, CNN reported; Trump denied the CNN report in a tweet on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Biden has remained at his home in Wilmington, Del., reportedly receiving daily briefings on the pandemic from aides and holding campaign events over videoconference.
Pritzker spoke to Yahoo Finance Editor-in-Chief Andy Serwer in an episode of “Yahoo Finance Presents.”
After serving as national finance chair for Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, she took a seat on Obama’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness and his Economic Recovery Advisory Board. From 2013 to 2017, she held the position of Secretary of Commerce. Currently, she sits on the Microsoft (MSFT) board and is chairman of PSP Partners, a private investment firm.
Pritzker credited Congress and the Federal Reserve for financial stimulus that has helped soften the economic blow of the crisis for everyday Americans. But because states lack nationwide coordination on coronavirus testing and lose out on tax revenue, the federal government needs to step in and help them too, she said.
“No state has enough excess budget to be able to solve for this forced shutdown that we have to do in order to protect our population,” she says. “So the federal government has a massive role to play.”
Speaking about Biden later in the interview, Pritzker said he understands the active footing that the federal government should take to address the crisis.
“He would garner the federal government to do its job,” she says. “This is why you have a federal government.”