'Don't defend Trump, attack China': Republican memo reveals coronavirus campaign strategy

‘Don’t defend Trump, attack China’: Republican memo reveals coronavirus campaign strategy


‘Don’t defend Trump, attack China’: Republican memo reveals coronavirus campaign strategy

‘Don’t defend Trump, attack China’: Republican memo reveals coronavirus campaign strategy

'Don't defend Trump, attack China': Republican memo reveals coronavirus campaign strategy 1

A 57-page memo that was recently circulated among Republican senatorial candidates sheds light on the GOP’s messaging effort to attack China for the coronavirus pandemic and blame the country’s communist government leadership for “covering it up, lying, and hoarding the world’s supply of medical equipment.”

The memo, obtained by Politico, encourages candidates to promote unverified theories that the coronavirus is “likely the result of an accidental release by a Chinese research facility,” which China and the World Health Organisation (WHO), among other groups, deny.

It also provides a comprehensive slate of messaging suggestions on a wide range of questions candidates could face on coronavirus, and advises candidates how to pivot an answer back towards attacking China, tying a Democratic opponent to China, and promising to hold the Chinese government accountable through sanctions and other means.


For instance, a reporter could ask a candidate whether the health crisis in the US is Trump’s fault.

“Don’t defend Trump, other than the China Travel Ban — attack China,” the memo suggests.

The memo also provides talking points for candidates who are asked whether they are “being racist by blaming China” and prompting racist attacks against Chinese Americans.

“No one is blaming Chinese Americans,” the memo suggests candidates answer. “This is the fault of the Chinese Communist Party for covering up the virus and lying about it’s danger. This caused the pandemic and they should be held accountable. … No one has suffered more from the murderous Communist Chinese Party dictatorship than the people of China. We stand with them against their corrupt government that caused this pandemic,” candidates should say.

The memo, dated 17 April, was compiled by the political consulting firm of Brett O’Donnell, a Republican operative who has previously worked for Utah Senator Mitt Romney, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton, and others.


Mr Cotton has long been one of the most vociferously anti-China lawmakers in Washington.

In an interview on Fox Business on Sunday, he put that reputation into action, arguing that Chinese students should be prohibited from studying science at US universities.

“If Chinese students want to come here and study Shakespeare and the Federalist Papers, that’s what they need to learn from America,” Mr Cotton said in the interview. “They don’t need to learn quantum computing and artificial intelligence from America,” he said.

In a statement to Politico, National Republican Senatorial Committee spokesman Jesse Hunt said the committee “routinely” sends similar memos and documents “dozens of times per week.”

“That’s the role of the party committee, especially in these volatile times,” Mr Hunt said.


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