Trump’s Monday rally and subsequent events this week in Pennsylvania, Iowa and North Carolina will underscore both his increasing concern about his own prospects, as time to rescue his presidency runs out, and how his own infection with Covid-19 has done nothing to convince him to adopt a more responsible attitude toward the pandemic.
The ad creates a false impression that Trump’s handling of a virus that has killed 214,000 Americans has been a famous success, and features Fauci saying, “I can’t imagine that anybody could be doing more.”
The government’s top infectious disease specialist told CNN that the comments, which were made during a March Fox News interview, were used without his permission and were ripped out of context.
“In my nearly five decades of public service, I have never publicly endorsed any political candidate,” Fauci told CNN.
“They are indeed Dr. Fauci’s own words. We have done a ‘phenomenal’ job, according to certain governors. Many people agree…And now come the Vaccines & Cures, long ahead of projections!” Trump tweeted.
Alarming virus data
The President’s new attempt to create an alternative reality about a pandemic that he first ignored, then downplayed and ultimately mismanaged, comes as experts warn of a dire fall and winter ahead.
The virus is now rising in 30 states and is receding in only two, according to Johns Hopkins University. On Saturday alone, there were more than 54,000 new infections recorded with a further 618 deaths. The high baseline of cases means that a coming spike could be even more serious than the viral storm that raged through the northeast and the south in the spring and summer.
The latest forecast from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington School of Medicine projects that there could be nearly 395,000 US coronavirus deaths by February 1.
“It’s going to disappear, it is disappearing and vaccines are going to help,” Trump said.
Trump’s top economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, also painted a false picture of the situation on Sunday.
“We are learning to deal with the virus in a targeted, safe, preventive way,” Kudlow told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union” while promoting a new call for an economic stimulus package that has already been rejected by House Democrats and a group of Senate Republicans.
Trump’s experience with the virus — albeit with emergency therapies not available to other Americans — has played into his conceit that it is not that serious and that it should not “dominate” regular life. While the overwhelming majority of those infected will get better, the disease has been fatal for several hundred thousand Americans and caused complications for many others. The President’s prescription for getting back to normal — encapsulated by a lack of mask wearing and social distancing at his rallies — not only risks infecting tens of thousands in the coming months. It also threatens to overwhelm hospitals again and therefore to leave many victims without proper treatment.
Tough polls for Trump
The President’s return to the campaign trail is being driven by necessity. Multiple national polls have him falling further behind Biden nationally and in swing states following his boorish performance in the first debate and his own diagnosis with the disease, which has deepened public perceptions that he has botched the crisis.
In the ABC/Washington Post poll, nearly 6 in 10 people disapprove of the way the President is handling the pandemic.
Trump will hit the road after White House physician, Navy Cmdr. Dr. Sean Conley, issued a statement on Saturday night that said the President was “no longer considered a transmission risk to others,” although it didn’t say he had tested negative. The White House is also still refusing to say when the President last posted a negative test before he got sick — information that would help establish whether he knowingly traveled to campaign events without precautions to safeguard others while contagious.
“I’m running as a proud Democrat, but I am going to govern as an American president,” Biden said, touting the endorsement of the Keystone State’s popular former Republican Gov. Tom Ridge.
“I am going to work as hard for those who don’t support me as those who do,” he said.
Barrett hearing will reverberate through election campaign
Republicans hope Barrett’s confirmation hearings, which begin in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday, will supercharge base turnout in three weeks and compensate for the President’s dipping poll numbers.
“This nominee poses a clear and present danger,” Democratic Sen. Mazie Hirono of Hawaii said on “State of the Union.”
“The immediate danger is to the health care of over 20 million Americans who have health care thanks to the Affordable Care Act, the over 100 million Americans who are protected under the Affordable Care Act because they have preexisting conditions, not to mention the seven million who have tested positive for Covid, who will be put into the category of those with preexisting conditions.”