The Note: China comes into uneasy focus in early general-election skirmish

Dueling ads are using the words of Trump and Biden against both men.

The TAKE with Rick Klein

There’s political consensus, for the moment, about the potency of China as an election-year issue that stems directly from the COVID-19 crisis.

Dueling ads are using the words of President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden against both men. China is even emerging as an extremely early 2024 issue, with a new generation of Republican lawmakers competing over the rights to who called it first and who’s calling it out the loudest.

But what China means in 2020 remains as unclear as any statistics coming out of Beijing. For Trump, the focus on China places his flattery of Chinese leaders in an unflattering light and could pit his hopes for economic victories against his hopes for political wins.

“Trump rolled over for the Chinese,” a Biden campaign ad, released over the weekend, states.

For Biden, talk of China brings back decades of quotes that look different in light of the current crisis. It also opens up talk of Hunter Biden’s work for foreign entities -- ground the Trump campaign would love to return to.

“If Sleepy Joe won,” Trump said at Saturday’s coronavirus briefing, “they own our country.”

Pinning blame on China could draw bipartisan agreement -- particularly as more evidence emerges that the Chinese government knew more than it was letting on months ago.

Yet words spoken now about China are likely to matter less than actions taken going forward that impact the United States. Don’t mistake any consensus for suggestions that anyone knows the political stakes.

The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks

President Trump continued to lob personal and belittling attacks against Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi over the weekend. Pelosi volleyed in turn and told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos she thinks Trump is a “poor leader” and that she tries to ignore his tweets.

Despite the partisan sparring, Pelosi said on ABC Sunday that lawmakers were close to reaching a deal on their next piece of emergency legislation dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent economic crisis.

“We have common ground,” she said talking about her and her Republican colleagues, then went on to remind viewers that previous bills responding to the crisis over the last few weeks were passed with bipartisan support. She made it clear she intended to keep up that track record with future legislation.

Over the weekend congressional negotiators continued to work hammering out the details of the next bill, which is said to include billions for more coronavirus testing and hospitals.

Democrats have also pushed hard to set aside funding for minority-owned small businesses as they replenish the lending programs as well as provide funds for other small businesses that have been “under-banked,” i.e., have not had formal lending relationships with banks in the past but which need help now.

The TIP with Alisa Wiersema

President Trump's Twitter missives to "liberate" key 2020 battleground states seem to be at odds with how most Americans are assessing the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

In a new poll conducted by NBC News/The Wall Street Journal, nearly 60 percent of registered voters say they are more worried about the U.S. moving too quickly to loosen stay-at-home restrictions, which experts say would result in more lives being lost. That's nearly double the amount of registered voters -- 32 percent -- who say they're concerned the U.S. will move too slowly to loosen restrictions, thereby harming the economy.

Still, across the country, the president's message appears to be resonating with demonstrators who took to the streets of some major cities over the weekend to voice opposition against governor-issued stay-at-home orders. Many carried pro-Trump signage and pushed back on social distancing measures they say are an overreach of government.

With more protests on the horizon, the president's words are likely to continue to fuel political narratives involving both him and those in his orbit. Already, the Michigan Freedom Fund, a conservative group that partly organized "Operation Gridlock" in the state's capital, has been scrutinized for past ties to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and her family. ABC News has not found any evidence directly linking the DeVos family to the protests, and a family spokesperson says they were "not involved in any way."

Meanwhile, during a virtual convention for Students for Trump, the college campus arm of the conservative student group Turning Point USA, the group's founder, Charlie Kirk, urged students to launch a "peaceful rebellion against governors" in states like Michigan and Wisconsin, which the president called out in his tweets.

THE PLAYLIST

ABC News' "Start Here" Podcast. Monday morning’s episode features ABC News’ Anne Flaherty, who examines a new plan from a bipartisan panel of experts on reopening the country safely. Then, ABC News’ Trish Turner brings us the latest on the Paycheck Protection Program funding negotiations. And, we speak to a graduating college student whose job hunt has been disrupted due to the coronavirus. http://apple.co/2HPocUL

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY

  • Rep. Max Rose (D-NY) appears on ABC's "The View."
  • President Donald Trump has lunch with Vice President Mike Pence at 1 p.m.
  • Members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force hold a press briefing at 5 p.m.
  • Download the ABC News app and select "The Note" as an item of interest to receive the day's sharpest political analysis.

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