Having left Walter Reed Hospital after a three-day stay to recover from the coronavirus, President Donald Trump has begun, what assistants and confidants say, a new phase of the presidential campaign: an effort to make his illness an electoral asset.
The president’s stint at the military medical center may have raised serious questions about his political future and physical status, with medics giving him a trio of therapies and his doctor grateful that he’s not out of the woods yet. But during his absence from the White House, Trump spent his weekend frantically working on the phone, compulsively watching TV, and blatantly ignoring advice from his own public health officials.
“How does it play?” The president has interviewed several advisers and senior assistants since Friday, asking them about their views on how his diagnosis was covered by the press.
He was also plotting. And at the top of his mind, according to three people familiar with his private comments, was how to reverse the damage his campaign could suffer by being off the beaten track. Trump assured his confidants that he would be back soon, although he was not sure he could commit to doing so in the coming week. And he previewed what is set to become the latest of many 2020 Mail reboots over the past few months.
The president has repeatedly asserted that once he recovers from the coronavirus – for which First Lady Melania Trump, his campaign manager, his debate-sparing partner, the press secretary and other assistants also have tested positive – he may present himself as a conqueror, both personally and politically.
The notion may seem exaggerated, given the poor marks Trump received for his handling of the pandemic. But according to informed sources, the president insisted it would be a campaign asset, as he would be able to say “I know what people are going through,” one of the sources said. The Allies have argued that this could help portray Trump as both resilient and empathetic, which could be useful in a race where polls show a wide empathy gap between him and former Vice President Joe Biden.
“He’s become a kind of first responder. He went through it and was in the hospital, ”Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the Republican House and informal adviser to Trump, said in an interview Monday. “And he’s fearless. We are not the land of the faint hearted and the home of scared cats.
As of Monday morning, Trump’s campaign had begun testing this latest 2020 selling point, dismissing the reality that the president’s stubborn disregard for public health and safety measures directly contributed to his own infection, let alone the death of 208,000. Americans. Indeed, upon his return to the White House on Monday evening, Trump entered the balcony for a photoshoot, during which he defiantly tore off the mask he was wearing, the heaviness of his breathing clearly showing that the disease was always present. his system.
Earlier today, Dr Sean Conley, Trump’s doctor, kindly warned that he “may not be quite out of the woods yet.” But in a video he recorded, Trump insisted he could have left the hospital two days ago because he “felt good”.
His hoarse voice, his mask still unlit, the lingering fragments of the autumn sunset behind him, he added, “Maybe immune.” I do not know.”
It was a surreal scene that fitted perfectly into the surreal moment: a president whose state of health was unclear, risking the safety of his own collaborators and security guards in an attempt to look good for elections within 30 days. And, for the most part, everyone in Trumpland seems happy to be playing the game. In addition to the attempt to turn the president’s severe COVID infection into an electoral asset, the Trump campaign has also attempted to turn her into a cow. milk.
“As the leader of the free world, President Trump had no choice,” said a fundraising email sent Monday morning by a joint fundraising committee for the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee . “He didn’t want to stay in the White House and shut himself up, away from the American people.”
The email was among at least a dozen messages sent by Trump’s re-election since Saturday, urging supporters to donate to the campaign or sign allegedly “heal” cards for the president. These calls reflected the president’s burning desire to return to the countryside.
“We are in the home stretch of this election,” an email sent Sunday under the name of the president’s son Donald Trump Jr. said, “and as my father works hard to get back on the road as quickly as possible, it is it’s up to us to keep our movement strong for his EPIC RETURN.
But while some of the president’s key allies laid the groundwork for a glorious recovery, sometimes comically speaking of the president’s impending recovery and return to the election trail, others in Trump’s orbit weren’t so optimistic. on the idea that the president contracting the coronavirus would make him look like an eligible badass.
“Obviously, the jury is out on the political consequences,” said Matt Schlapp, the president of the American Conservative Union and a prominent Trump deputy. “[But] I don’t think this idea is going to sell, somehow say the president did something wrong and that’s how he got sick. Blaming those who got sick is a huge mistake … There are a lot of people in this country who understand this and reject the narrative that Trump did something wrong and it got him to get it.
Recent public polls show more Americans than not accept the premise that Trump’s personal approach to the global pandemic – not to mention his policies or his insistence on having large crowds at his rallies – has directly contributed at this current moment. But beyond President Trump’s health, much of the country’s outlook on the pandemic has been far removed from the rosy picture the White House has attempted to paint. As the death toll continues to rise and the economy remains in a rut, progress in the fight against the disease has stalled.
“I am actually disturbed and concerned that our infection base is still stuck at 40,000 cases per day,” said Dr Anthony Fauci, a leading figure on the White House task force, Told CNN Monday. “This is not a place to be.”
And yet, there is little evidence that the president or his team are ready to change course. Instead, much of the energy and angst within the administration has focused on how the pandemic – and Trump’s infection – has been handled from a public relations perspective. Above weekend, various senior White House and Trump campaign officials have independently told the Daily Beast about the conflicting messages about the president’s situation and the dysfunction creeping inside – several blaming the House Chief of Staff squarely. Blanche, Mark Meadows.
“[Basically] no one was informed of the ascent and descent, ”said a White House official. “A lot of us must have found out what was going on while reading the news.”
Some members of the president’s inner circle, meanwhile, didn’t even seem worried enough about the news to begin to fully agree to stricter precautions. Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer who flew on Air Force One for the Biden-Trump debate last week, claimed by text message on Saturday that he had tested negative. But when asked if he was planning to quarantine just to be safe, he replied that he only did so “informally” and that he was still considering “[ing] to a friend[’s] home for dinner ‘that night.
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