Several states have canceled their primary elections as concerns about the coronavirus mount. There may be more coming. And I suspect that when the ratings are released they will indicate that few watched the debate last night between Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, the two rivals for the Democrat presidential nomination.

COVID-19 has claimed the spotlight, at least for now. We seem to have gone from a political season in overdrive to one dwarfed by the pandemic.

That all of this is happening during an important election cycle is not necessarily a good thing. For fans of President Donald Trump, this is a dangerous time. He will be judged on his handling of this crisis and it could well become his legacy. Should the infestation be mild and short-lived, Trump could emerge a hero. Should things go wrong and lots of people die, he could be defeated in November.

Right now, Biden and Bernie are competing against an international crisis for attention. That's a tough place to be. Though it is likely Biden will defeat Sanders for their party's nomination, both men are under the microscope and will be judged by how they react to events. If they are too critical of the president it could cost them. After all, most sane Americans want Trump's coronavirus strategy to succeed. But if it does, that's good for Trump and bad for Biden and Bernie. They have a fine line to walk here.

The bottom line is that few people have an appetite for partisan politics right now. They have more serious things to contend with – such as staying alive.

My advice to Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders is to stay visible but in a way that appears supportive of the national effort to defeat the coronavirus. Save the partisan sniping until after the crisis has passed and the public is better able to focus again on the upcoming election.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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