He’s Back: Trump To Re-up Virus Briefings Amid Lagging Polls

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President Donald Trump points to the door as reporters are escorted out of a meeting with with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Calif., in the Oval Office of the White House, Monday, July 20, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is set to once again take center stage in the government’s coronavirus response after a White House debate over how best to deploy its greatest and most volatile asset — him — played out in public as his poll numbers falter.

One week after a campaign shake-up, the plan is for Trump to again become a regular public presence at the podium starting Tuesday as confirmed coronavirus cases spike nationwide.

Trump advisers have stressed the urgency of the president adopting a more disciplined public agenda in an effort to turn around his lagging poll numbers against Democratic rival Joe Biden.

“I think it’s a great way to get information out to the public,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office on Monday, saying he hopes to discuss progress on vaccines and therapeutics. His once-daily turns behind the White House briefing room podium largely ended in late April after the president’s off-the-cuff suggestion that injecting toxic disinfectant could help treat the coronavirus.

In another sign of recalibration, Trump belatedly tweeted a photo of himself in a face mask Monday, calling it an act of patriotism, after months of resistance to being publicly seen in the coverings — deemed vital to slowing the spread of the virus — as a sign of weakness.

White House aides said the format, venue and frequency of the president’s forthcoming appearances haven’t been finalized. And it wasn’t clear whether he would field questions or share the stage with others, including Vice President Mike Pence and Drs. Deborah Birx or Anthony Fauci.

But it all pointed to an apparent course-reversal. Trump for months had heeded aides who pushed for him to all but ignore the virus and instead focus on the economy and more politically advantageous terrain.

Trump will use the briefings “to speak directly to the American people about the federal government’s coronavirus response and other pertinent issues,” said White House deputy press secretary Sarah Matthews.

The return to briefings has been championed in the West Wing by senior adviser Kellyanne Conway, who advocated publicly last week that Trump should return to the podium to more clearly highlight steps toward economic recovery but also create a stage to display leadership by addressing Americans’ concerns about COVID-19.

“His approval rating on the pandemic was higher when he was at the podium,” Conway said Friday, in a tacit admission of what is largely unspoken aloud by Trump aides: that he is behind in both public and private surveys. “It was at 51% in March. And I think people want to hear from the president of the United States.”

“It doesn’t have to be daily,” she added. “It doesn’t have to be for two hours. But in my view, it has to be.”

In addition to discussing medical developments, Trump also was expected to focus on his advocacy for schools to reopen for in-person education, following his threat to try to withhold federal funds from those that stick to remote education.

Other Trump aides have for months pushed the president to keep a lower profile on the virus response and instead champion the economic recovery and other issues with a clearer political upside. That camp, led by chief of staff Mark Meadows, has attempted to plot out something close to a traditional messaging strategy for Trump to contrast him with Biden on policy issues.

In the last week, they’ve organized White House events highlighting Trump’s efforts to support law enforcement, talk tough on China and roll back regulations, all while sharply criticizing Biden. And Trump himself has teased forthcoming moves on immigration and health care.

Meadows was among the most forceful White House aides in pushing Trump to end the once-daily coronavirus briefings more than two months ago after the president mused about injecting disinfectants as a cure for the virus. It sparked state medical warnings against the potentially deadly move.

The daily briefings were scrapped soon after that misstatement, fulfilling the hope of aides who saw them dragging down the president’s poll numbers, particularly with older voters.

But the president himself had not abandoned the idea of reviving them in some form, telling aides he missed the early evening window in which he would dominate cable television ratings. Tellingly, when he announced Monday that the news conferences could return, he did so with an eye toward its time slot.

The view in Trump’s circle is that the president needs an alternate means to reach voters with his trademark rallies largely on hold because of the coronavirus. The president voiced frustration in recent days about his inability to hold a rally, blaming Democratic governors in battleground states for not waiving COVID-19 restrictions on large gatherings.

“I want to get out there and do the rally as soon as we can,” Trump said Saturday on a call with Michigan supporters. “Between COVID and your governor’s restrictions, it really makes it very difficult, but we’ll be out there eventually. But in the meantime, we’re doing it telephonically.”

But there are few states that don’t have rising COVID-19 cases or stringent restrictions.

Even in states where Republican governors may be willing to lift restrictions, campaign advisers worry about surging infection rates that could dissuade supporters from attending a rally. A rally slated for New Hampshire, which has a low COVID-19 rate and a Republican governor, was scrapped in part because of fears of low attendance.

Instead, the campaign and White House are attempting to create alternate methods of holding events that could drive media coverage. Trump has recently taken to delivering more politically themed speeches from the Rose Garden and, in a recent trip to Florida, held an unofficial event at U.S. Southern Command and a campaign event with Venezuelan and Cuban immigrants. More trips of that nature are planned in the coming weeks.

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34 COMMENTS

  1. Educated Archy March 14, 2020 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm
    Yes it’s just a classic flu outbreak. Maybe not a hoax but mass hysteria yes. By end of April it will all be gone. Cuomo is engaged in fear mongering. Ny is a large state and I am sure at least two people die every winter month from flus.

    Educated Archy March 10, 2020 7:00 pm at 7:00 pm
    You have this dream that corona will do in Trump. You said this about impeachment collusion and stormy. And you were wrong all 3 times. Guess what by the time the summer comes corona will be by bye and you will be the laughing stock . I still say come back to me by end of April.

    • Lets all show everyone what a liar Phineas is.

      A couple of days ago Phineas proclaimed that he never posts under any other names. Well here is a post from someone a few days ago. I’ll leave it to the readers to decide how strikingly similar it is to the one above. We also know that its kind of weird to save someone else’s posts for 4 months. It would be an extremely weird thing for two people to do the same and to post in the same style. here is the comment.

      Dump People Are Not Smart July 14, 2020 5:12 pm at 5:12 pm
      Who is the “we” you are talking about that followed the norm. It was people like “YOU” who early on ensured this would spread and likely contributed to many more deaths in nursing homes than anything Coumo did. If you are not sure you acted irresponsibly, here is your own comment from 3/15/2020.

      Educated Archy March 15, 2020 12:56 am at 12:56 am
      Nope sorry I went to shul shook hands and acted normal. I did use extra soup. We need not fall for this super hyper paranoid society. There are some good olde fashion drs that laugh at all this and say the world has gone mad.

      • Yup. Never wrote that and as I said, have no idea what dumb people are smart refers to. Still never wrote under a different name. If I did, you would not detect a pattern. But, I haven’t.

        • You are a liar . You are not even embarrassed to admit it when I catch you red handed ?

          So two people randomly save messages from 4 months ago ? Is this a widespread hobby on vin ?

          Come on . You expect me to believe you ?

          Have you no shame ?

    • Let me address the substance. Now phineas is a broken tape recorder and just regurgitates the same garbage over and over despite my multiple response. But I’ll address it again anyhow.

      I have no regrets about my comments. At the time based on what we knew we had no reason to think this was more than the flu. One should always be optimistic and not live in fear. Sure there were some warning signs but we always receive warning signs about all kinds of disasters . Why assume this was different? What’s more, all politicians including progressives like Cuomo etc.. did not really grasp its severity. They announced lock downs that will be effective in a weeks time. That means its not so serious and we can wait a week. If its fire burning you don’t wait a week. And then of course the nursing home debacle proved his lack of concern. This was the consensuses at the time. Everyone was not panicking like they should. Yes there were a few alaramists but that’s it.

      Now phineas, when you repost my comments make sure you repost this as well because he seem to be a broken tape recorder

        • No I do not regret it. Penny for your thoughts

          And I’ll say it again . I think this will all be Over by summer end . I won’t regret optimism

      • At the time “we”… Who is this “we.” You being ignorant does not mean “we” are also ignorant. On 3/15 when you bragged about going to shul and shaking hands “we” all had the info to know better. YOU and unfortunately many others, decided to not listen to what the doctors and scientists were warning about. That is on YOU, not WE.

        Take some responsibility for your personal actions.

        • Phineas when you take responsibility for your actions and stop lying and spamming.

          How ironic for the wind to blow you in where you first comment on an article almost a day old. No other comments under that name for 3 days. Yet now buried deep in an article after I mention your name you mysteriously pop up?

          Smart people are not dumb

          Phineas , yonasonw Dump People Are Not Smart, “Take some responsibility for your personal actions” YOU ARE A PATHOLOGICAL LIAR. Take responsibility and stop these cowardly acts once and for all.

        • Lets add some more proof around phineas lies,

          So far we have three coincidences,

          1) Such similar comments
          2) two people with a hobby of saving someone else comments for 4 months.
          3) A comment of your screen name buried deep within our discussion exactly at the right time and place

          Now lets add a few more,
          1) The same day yonasonw says he won’t post any more, a new nudnkik named Phineas pops up at exactly the same point and style as yonasonw
          2) Both Phineas and yonasonw are esteemed law professionals
          3) So many never Trumpers when 80% of frum jews are Pro Trump.

          So many perfect coincidences. What mazal.

          Phineas and your Pseudomonas. YOU ARE A PATHOLOGICAL LIAR

        • Who is this “we.?
          Couomo and all politicians also did not grasp it.

          As i stated you can’t live your life in fear every time scienetsts warn you. Yes global warming is going to destroy the world too. Its the boy who cried wolf and we got bitten

    • How are you able to access all of Archie’s previous comments? Are you on the VIN editorial staff? I can’t seem to get anyones previous comments. What’s the trick?

      • That’s the funny part, both phineas and “dumb people are not smart” employ this same quirky trick. Phineas says he saved my comments 4 months ago on a word doc. He then opens it and dumps it here when he gets in the mood. So now you think two people actually have this same hobby of storing other people’s comments from 4 mths ago and dumping it in?

        Its is possible that They are on some Vin editorial bd. But either way its one person. And I wish VIN would ban these liars and spammers once and for all. Do like any other website. Require a log in name with only one unique name assigned to you

    • Wrong approach. Science is a very important piece of your informed decision but not the only thing. That’s a very naive way of looking at things.

      One has to look at the sociological effects , mental health, economical affect, child development and are our streets and children safer via lock downs or will many die from its side effects that may not be taken into account by science. Furthermore, is the science merely saying procrastinate it or is it really getting rid of it? Israel followed all the science and data yet its still lurked and resurged.

      • I do. I have even stated that I fully understand your need for the schools to reopen, particularly with small children. I just don’t agree with you but I never questioned the cogency of that argument.

          • i disagree with you because nothing you say is backed by fact…you can do nothing to refute the argument that infected kids will come home from school and sicken their more vulnerable family members…you also have no refutation for the undeniable fact that teachers and staff members will die. Its already happened and will continue to happen
            Besides, no responsible parent will comply with a go to school order. Polling show 62% opposed to school openings. The other 38% are- like you–either stupid or put politics ahead of their children’s health

          • Because school openings in Israel and other places have led to increased cases. We will not get control of the problem until everyone comprehensively stays in place for several weeks or we find a vaccine.

          • Henry,

            “We will not get control of the problem until everyone comprehensively stays in place for several weeks”

            How many weeks are several?
            Israel is the perfect example, whereby it was completely closed. Much togher than here. And earlier than here. It was closed from before purim till a week or two after pesach. Yes full curfew pesach , not allowed to go to your shver’s seder. It was as you say a real comprehensive closure.

            Thats several weeks (about 7 weeks) Yet we could not run away. Closing for several weeks is apparently not enough. So should we close for several years,? will several months do it?

            If several weeks are not enough then, the damage to kids become irreparable.

          • Phineas,

            “nothing you say is backed by fact”

            Facts: it did not spread in Eurooe. Multiple studies. Fact It did not spread in YMCA open across the USA.

            “you can do nothing to refute the argument that infected kids will come home from school and sicken their more vulnerable family members”
            If its kids under 10 Thats fake news. You made that up. Generally kids will NOT sicken their family. Its a lie and fear mongering.

            “you also have no refutation for the undeniable fact that teachers and staff members will die.”
            Again for kids under 10 thats rare and odd

            Furthermore, you have no refutation to the FACT, that kids will die if left home unstructured.
            Moreover, who says for better of society when schools are ESSENTIAL you don’t elevate risk with teachers. Why are you not worried about gorecy store workers dying? Becasue its essential when you can buy tuna fish on amazon? Thats more essenital than kids education, mental and physical health?

          • Polling show 62% opposed to school openings.

            This requires its own fact check.

            As per Mayor De_blassio on wync 75% of parents want schools open. Fake poll. Cite your source you liar.

            Furthermore, noone is suggesting a “go to school order” . Thats baloney. We are suggesting the “right to send to school ” for those that wish and those that don’t want won’t send. That poll’s wording is fake.

            Now we are not fools. We care about our kids well being.

          • Phineas, Henry

            Can you please start acting like a grown up and end this coward spamming act. What do you gain by this nonsense of multiple screen names? Its sooooo obvious and its immature

            Phoneas and HENry you are PATHOLOGICAL LAIRS.

          • Let’s add one very huge fact that Henry aka phineas refuses to admit .

            In the greater nyc area , chasdish yeshivas have been opened for nearly 3 months already .

            Day camps where hundreds of thousands of Jewish kids attend and where you are more on top of each other than schools , they have been opened for close to a month .

            Now please do enlighten us on the infectious rate ? Do tell us why frum schools can’t open in September based on this

  2. When we had the Asian flu outbreak in 1957, Ike was not blamed; when we had the Hong Kong flue outbreak in 1968-1969, neither LBJ or Nixon were blamed. When the Swine Flu outbreak occurred when Obama was President, there was hardly a peep by the media; the same held true when there was the Ebola outbreak a few years ago, and Obama refused to ban people arriving from the affected African countries. At that time, the news media did not call Obama to task on that decision. Hence, I can’t understand the double standard, vis-a-vis Trump and Covid-19? Can anyone explain that phenomenon?

    • What, you expected them to call the Lightbringer to account? Don’t you know that he was a higher kind of human being?

      And as for 1957 and 1968-69, important differences are that the media had a little more integrity, and that the citizenry hadn’t been dumbed down by decades of miseducation, and so had a decent understanding of risk, among other things. (They would also have been a generation that lived through the Depression and its aftermath, and so would have been less like to propose or to tolerate a shutdown of the economy.)

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