For months, US President Donald Trump downplayed the extent of the corona crisis – even though the US now has more than 207,000 fatalities. It was not until yesterday, Thursday, that Trump declared at a dinner in the White House despite the rising number of infections: “The end of the pandemic is in sight.” Now he and First Lady Melania Trump are infected themselves.
“We will begin our quarantine and recovery immediately. We will get through this TOGETHER, “wrote Trump on Friday night (local time) on Twitter. And Melania Trump assured: “We are fine”. Shortly before, the US president had confirmed that his close adviser Hope Hicks had tested positive for the virus. There have been corona infections in the vicinity of Trump. However, Hicks spends a lot of time with Trump and First Lady Melania.
“The most dangerous moment the US government has ever known”
The personal physician of the US President promptly assured that Donald Trump could continue his official business “without interruption” despite his corona infection. But the news hit like a bomb. CNN’s national security analyst spoke of “perhaps the most dangerous moment the US government has ever seen.” Since Ronald Reagan’s gunshot wound in 1981, no president is known to have faced a life-threatening condition during his tenure.
So what does the disease mean for Trump and the time until the election in a month?
One thing is clear: the virus comes at an inopportune time for Trump, because it hits his election campaign hard. Even if Trump survives the illness without any problems, he must first be in quarantine. There shouldn’t be any appearances in front of his followers at first. And on these he builds his election campaign, they are extremely important to him. Even whether the next TV duel with his challenger Joe Biden can take place on October 15th is initially questionable.
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A U-turn by the US President is necessary
As far as his handling of the virus is concerned, Trump now has to turn around. For months he had tried to downplay the virus. He repeatedly emphasized that Corona will “disappear”. He mocked scientists who commented on the severity of the pandemic. Until recently, Trump refused to wear a mask – with a few exceptions. He publicly made fun of wearing a mask on his challenger Joe Biden.
Internally, according to CNN, Trump had expressed concern that infected campaign workers could undermine his message that the corona outbreak was slowing and that states should accelerate the reopening. Since then, the White House has been working hard to protect Trump and his Vice President Mike Pence from infection – even if they were traveling to countries particularly hard hit by the pandemic. The White House spokeswoman called Trump “the most tested man in America”.
Also read: Donald Trump and wife Melania tested positive for Corona – hate from China
In terms of topics, Trump has recently tried to steer the focus away from the pandemic towards violence in the cities and the filling of the post at the Supreme Court. With his own illness, he should no longer be able to do this. Even the news of his infection caused violent reactions on the stock markets. The Dow future temporarily lost more than 400 points. And Trump uses rising stock prices again and again to praise his economic policy.
Recently, Trump had always insisted on restoring “normal” everyday life as quickly as possible. Will he move away from this course now?
Corona is life-threatening for Trump
For Trump personally, the Covid-19 infection is without question more than just an illness at an inopportune time. Trump is 74 years old. Although Trump’s doctor recently declared him “very healthy” time and again. But he is said to have high cholesterol. In a health check this year, he weighed a good 110 kilograms. Given his height, he is considered obese. In September an unannounced hospitalization fueled rumors. His personal physician then emphasized that Donald Trump had no stroke and no disturbance of the cardiovascular system. But Trump belongs to the high-risk group. Corona infection could be life-threatening for him.
Reports in the US media show that Trump is very concerned about his own health. The “New York Times” describes Trump as a “germ phobic” who is said to have been angry in the spring when people did not wear a mask when serving the food. He is also said to have expressed his irritation in private when people came too close to him. However, he is said to have put aside worries about his overcrowded rallies by saying that he is on a stage “that is very far away”.
Will Trump be able to use the infection positively for himself?
Despite all the risks, it is likely that Trump – at least in the case of a mild course – will try to use the infection positively for himself. More than ever, he is the focus of the election campaign. He can present himself as a strong president who experiences firsthand what his country is going through now.
He could try even more vehemently than before to conjure up a national sense of community – much like the White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany already did on Twitter: “Your president will continue to put the people first,” she wrote. “America stands united”. The power of the whole country is with President Trump and the First Lady. And if he survives the infection lightly, he could portray himself as a physically strong man and at the same time point out the alleged physical weakness of his competitor Biden, as he has often done before.