Friday, November 26

How Trump’s Positive Affects the US Presidential Campaign


Correspondent in New York

Updated:

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Donald Trump is a master at stretching, dissolving and transforming reality based on his interests. But reality can also be stubborn, surviving barrage of tweets, hours of press conferences and electrifying rallies. The US president crashed into her in the early hours of yesterday, when it emerged that he and the first lady, Melania Trump, had tested positive for Covid-19, after months of trying to put it on the back burner. an epidemic that accumulates almost 210,000 deaths and millions of lost jobs. Trump’s illness explodes a month after his re-election, with the campaign uphill for president and at a time of maximum political polarization in the US.

“I don’t wear the mask like him,” Trump said of Joe Biden, his rival for the White House, in the candidate debate last Tuesday. «Every time you see him, he wears a mask. He can be talking at sixty meters and he appears with the largest mask you have ever seen. It was the usual exercise in mockery that Trump has made of the precautions that his rival has taken during the campaign. Just over two days later, the president announced that he had the virus. He was forced to suspend his public campaign events and he was left without the rally he had planned yesterday in Florida, perhaps the most decisive state for his re-election. Biden, on the contrary, traveled to Michigan yesterday, another decisive battle, to continue his campaign after having failed a covid test.

Trump was surprised by the epidemic with many options for his re-election. At the beginning of this year, the economy presented good numbers and the Democratic party was divided between the left wing of Bernie Sanders and the ‘establishment’ that supported Biden, an unimpressive candidate for many, with mediocre performances in the debates and with lack of energy evident in your campaign. Biden secured the nomination in early March, as the epidemic was beginning to show its severity. Trump chose to look the other way.

In mid-February, Trump slipped that in April, “when the heat hits,” the virus would disappear. At the end of February, when cases began to accumulate, he said that “very soon” there would be fewer than five infections and that it could be “only one or two” in a short period of time. Also that the virus “will disappear, like a miracle.” Only around mid-March, when the epidemic was showing its aggressiveness, especially in New York and its metropolitan area, and cases were spreading to other areas of the country, did Trump say that he would be “a president in time of war” to fight the virus. .

A bad example

It soon became clear that this war would not be easy and that it would have a devastating bill. The epidemic had spread through the country in the face of a tepid, late and uncoordinated reaction from the Trump Administration and local authorities. Trump starred in an irregular management of the crisis, with clashes with the governors of the states, frequent contradictions with the medical experts of their Government and slips such as the defense of the use of hydroxychloriquine or blunt gaffes such as the reference to the use of disinfectants to treat the disease.

Trump decided to distance himself from the epidemic, which, given the advance of the dead and the economic impact of the country’s confinement, threatened to turn his re-election into a referendum on his management of the crisis. From very early on, he focused his speech on lifting restrictions and economic recovery. As soon as he could, in mid-June, he launched into the campaign, with an indoor rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, that was widely criticized.

He sought to give an image of not being trapped by the epidemic. He refused to use the mask, despite the fact that his government had recommended it since the beginning of April. He was not seen in public until July, despite the insistence – also by his Republican allies – that he set an example with its use. Trump contributed to making facial protection an identity issuePolls showed that the vast majority of those who were against its use were Republican voters.

Biden shakes up the campaign

Biden, on the contrary, focused his campaign on the epidemic, a magnificent electoral card to bring down Trump. The president and his campaign mocked ad nauseam that the Democrat was campaigning “from the basement,” that he was in hiding because he had neither the energy nor the ability to keep up.

Without a doubt, the epidemic was a gift to Biden’s options. Trump’s positive could be the tie. The illness and forced quarantine of the president are a challenge to the president’s position on the virus. Since the end of August, Trump has multiplied his rallies with supporters, where physical distance is not imposed nor is it forced to wear masks, often against local regulations. “In this, he’s stupid,” Biden said of his rival in the debate.

The positive shakes the dynamics of the campaign, against the interests of Trump, who for the moment is left without his preferred territory, the rally. In recent weeks, still behind in the polls, he had managed to close the gap somewhat and change the political debate. The death of the progressive judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg and his prompt replacement by a conservative magistrate, Amy Coney Barrett, it ate a good part of the oxygen. The continued anger in Tuesday’s debate and Trump’s refusal to commit to accepting the election results and a peaceful transfer of powers also left the pandemic in the background. Now, Trump’s positive puts the virus back at the center of political life, with the possibility of not moving it for weeks. And it connects, in a paradoxical and very powerful way for the voter, the mismanagement of the epidemic and the impact on the president’s own health.

Democrats have been quick to use Trump’s contagion and his disparagement of the disease to their political interest. “I hope this serves as a reminder: put on a mask, maintain social distance and wash your hands,” Biden wrote on Twitter after the positive. Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader in the House of Representatives and Trump’s antagonist in Congress, said contagion should be a “learning experience.” Gretchen Whitmer, the Democratic governor of Michigan, called for the positive to be a “wake-up call” for voters. Others accused Trump and his team of endangering the people around him and holding rallies where the virus may have spread like wildfire.

It is still too early to know what impact the disease will have on Trump’s health and what campaigning capacity it will have in his convalescence. The president could turn it into a ‘reality’ in which the protagonist overcomes difficulties and returns just in time to lead the country. Perhaps the virus humanizes the perception of it by voters. The reality is that Americans are already voting, by mail and in person in some states, and Trump is a president in quarantine.

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