The Democrats, and their closest ally — the mainstream media have been promoting fear regarding the severity of the coronavirus, in attempt to make the president look bad. However, their plan may severely backfire.
According to some key Trump advisors, the unfolding health crisis brings a huge test to Trump’s presidency. On Wednesday, the death toll in the United States rose to 11, and a slew of new cases was reported.
But markets were rebounding after an interest rate cut by the Federal Reserve a day earlier, and the White House coronavirus task force spent the day with airline chief executives and pharmaceutical chiefs pursuing vaccines and therapeutic medicines.
Jason Miller, a former campaign official, said the crisis represented a new type of all-encompassing battle.
“Now, we are going to this true 21st-century war,” he said on a recent episode of Steve Bannon’s War Room Pandemic podcast. “This is something that doesn’t have borders. This is something that it doesn’t matter if it’s allies, if it’s foes. It impacts the economy. It’s public health. This impacts everything, altogether. So, President Trump, in a way that we’ve never comprehended, is a wartime president now.”
Miller continued, “The coronavirus is a serious situation that is changing hourly, which is exactly why Vice President [Mike] Pence, Secretary [Alex] Azar, and the entire task force continue to lead a whole-of-government response in partnership with state and local leaders that includes the best experts on infectious diseases.”
Some of Trump’s staunchest allies have spotted areas where they can score wins, based on a successful campaign against the virus. Members of the economic nationalist wing of the coalition that helped Trump win the White House see vindication in an America First message that raised concerns about China and America’s growing reliance on foreign manufacturers.
Furthermore, the virus crisis represents a chance to highlight how Democrats plan to upend trusted healthcare systems.
An unnamed former senior administration official said, “Democrats run the risk of overreaching by attempting to politicize the situation. Furthermore, candidates running on major changes to the healthcare system could find their position to be an increased liability.”
At the same time, supporters say that Trump’s rapid response in closing travel from China and appointing Pence as head of the coronavirus task force made an impact, ensuring that the issue would be taken seriously.
Another senior campaign adviser said it was possible Trump would benefit from cutting an image as a decisive leader.
“There’s some truth to it, but it’s also possible to overstate it,” the adviser said. “With a global epidemic, there’s not a perfect way for any leader to solve the problem.”
Instead, the adviser said, a win for the president might look more like business as usual.
“Markets are starting to get back to normal, and maybe people see that this thing may not turn into the terrible pandemic some expected,” the adviser added. “So, one, it may become less of an issue overall, but two, unless Trump does something to make the pandemic worse, which I don’t see, I don’t see a big long-term negative impact or a big positive impact.”
White House officials chafe at the suggestion that Trump faces a do-or-die moment. Instead, they point to successes in negotiating a new North America Free Trade Agreement or withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal or launching a strike to kill Tehran’s most powerful military general as decisive moments that provoked a backlash of criticism, plus dire warnings of catastrophe that never materialized.
In the same way as those example, the coronavirus has sparked “fearful rhetoric” and stories about “palace intrigue,” which, according to Judd Deere, deputy press secretary, missed the point of a president simply getting on with the job in hand.