Joe Biden sought to heal rifts in the Democratic party yesterday by heaping praise on nomination rival Bernie Sanders after a poll showed Donald Trump rapidly closing the gap with the former vice-president.
Mr Trump's approval rating has reached 49pc, the highest since he took office, according to a poll released yesterday.
The figures suggest the Democrat attacks on the administration's management of the coronavirus crisis have not hit home, even though the United States is bracing itself for massive job losses in the wake of the outbreak.
The surge in support for Mr Trump, who has given daily press conferences during the crisis, comes at a time when he has secured bipartisan support for a $2trn (€1.8trn) economic rescue package.
He has also invoked the Defence Production Act to order GM, one of America's big three carmakers, to make much-needed ventilators for the country's hospitals.
The ABC-'Washington Post' poll gave Mr Biden a narrow two-point lead over Mr Trump.
Even though other polls put Mr Biden further ahead, the surge in the president's approval rating will have set off alarm bells among Democrat strategists.
Mr Biden, who now looks almost certain to win the Democratic nomination for November's presidential election, was careful not to put pressure on Mr Sanders to abandon his campaign when he appeared on NBC.
"Bernie Sanders has poured his heart and soul into this campaign. He is moving the ball on a number of issues that relate to what are government's responsibilities," he said. "I think it's up to Bernie to make the judgment whether or not he should stay in the race... I think he's had a real impact - he brought a lot of people into the process that weren't in before."
Mr Biden's remarks appear intended to avoid the sort of split between the progressive and moderate wings of the party that dealt a fatal blow to Hillary Clinton's campaign in 2016. While there was little love lost between Ms Clinton and Mr Sanders, Mr Biden's relationship with the Vermont senator is far more cordial.
Mr Biden was also measured in his criticism of Mr Trump, noting voters tended to rally behind the president in a crisis. "I hope we're in a situation, going into the fall, where this is under control, where we've done all the right things and the president is listening to the scientists," he said. (© Daily Telegraph, London)