MSNBC’s Heilemann: ‘Empathy Is Joe Biden’s Superpower’

Thursday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” network contributor John Heilemann reacted to a campaign video of presumptive 2020 Democratic presidential nominee former Vice President Joe Biden addressing Americans who are “hurting” from the coronavirus pandemic in which he offered his condolences and blamed President Donald Trump’s administration for the loss of many lives.

Heilemann said that “empathy is Joe Biden’s superpower” and contrasted his remarks to Trump, who he noted is “attacking Twitter” for fact-checking and has lacked empathy amid the pandemic.

“Look, I don’t mean to be glib about it, but empathy is Joe Biden’s superpower, right?” Heilemann stated. “It’s the thing, I think, in this campaign, the best moments that Joe Biden had when he was running for the Democratic nomination was a moment in South Carolina. There were a couple of earlier moments in … televised town hall meetings where he expressed that empathy that you just heard in that prepared remarks that are remarks from yesterday, where he expressed and talked to someone who lost a wife, Emmanuel AME in Charleston, for instance, you know, and connected with people on a human level and expressed that sense of sympathy and empathy both. That is Biden’s superpower, and it is, to Joe’s point, it is the central contrast in this campaign. We’re going to see it over and over again. I remember back in the middle of March, right, when the pandemic was upon us but hadn’t fully exploded yet, and Donald Trump did his Oval Office address the same night that Tom Hanks announced that he had the coronavirus, the same night the NBA shut down. It was a key moment in the evolution of this story.”

He continued, “Joe Biden did an event in Delaware the next day that I went to, where he sort of stood up and said, ‘Here’s the contrast.’ There was Donald Trump behind the resolute desk in the Oval Office. Here’s me now showing you what it would be like if I was the president. And he was a different picture in terms of how he talked about the virus. Now we’re two and a half months later, 100,000 people are dead. We see the contrast between Donald Trump yesterday, attacking Twitter, trying to distract, trying to do all this crazy stuff he’s done for these — and vile stuff he’s done the past few days, rather than addressing this thing head-on. And then you see Joe Biden giving that speech. Joe Biden is not a perfect candidate. He’s not. But this contrast is a contrast that works, I think, powerfully to his advantage in a time of economic hardship, in a time of pandemic.”

“My gut is, and the polling suggests right now, that the American people are looking for a leader who has some empathy, who does feel their pain, and who will try to rebuild the economy in a way that works for them. I think that is the seam that the Biden campaign is going to drive into. And Joe is also right, the Trump campaign has new advertising up this week, that basically says, ‘We are not for empathy. We are not for humanity. Donald Trump is a jerk. We know he is a jerk. You know he is a jerk. But he is our jerk. His jerkiness, all his nasty qualities, are what is needed to rebuild this economy.’ They’re embracing the contrast, too. It’s not like they’re trying to soften it. It’ll be on display the next six months, and we’ll see what the American people think come November,” Heilemann concluded.

Follow Trent Baker on Twitter @MagnifiTrent

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