Senin, 05 Oktober 2020

Donald Trump's positive coronavirus test came after a barrage of bad headlines for the President - ABC News

US politics has a weird thing known as an "October Surprise".

It's a news event, always in October, that massively shakes up an election campaign. Some are deliberately planned, and others come out of the blue to shock everyone.

And 54 minutes into October of 2020, US president Donald Trump tweeted a surprise that will be hard to top.


This year has a way of making days feel like weeks, weeks feel like months. News that would have been discussed at length is pushed out of attention spans with a speed no-one is quite used to.

Which means it's easy to forget the volume of recent news featuring the President that any campaign would be desperate to avoid in the closing stages of a race to the White House.

The coronavirus test was just the cap on a month that may yet come to define the 2020 election.

It started with story about 'losers' and 'suckers'

On September 3, two months out from the US election, The Atlantic published a story alleging the President had repeatedly mocked America's war dead and injured troops.

The story alleged Trump referred to World War I dead at an American military cemetery as "losers" and "suckers" in 2018, and avoided a visit because he "feared his hair would become dishevelled in the rain".

The piece relied on anonymous sources, but the Associated Press said it had independently confirmed many of the comments.

Donald Trump holds an umbrella in the rain
President Donald Trump was in Paris for the commemoration ceremony for Armistice Day, 100 years after the end of World War I.(Reuters: Christian Hartmann)

Trump called the story "fake".

"I would be willing to swear on anything that I never said that about our fallen heroes," he said.

Pundits started asking the question — "will this damage Trump?".

Before many could get an answer, a new bombshell dropped.

Tapes of Trump admitting to downplaying coronavirus were released

"You just breathe the air and that's how it's passed," Trump said on the tapes while being asked about coronavirus.

"And so that's a very tricky one. That's a very delicate one. It's also more deadly than even your strenuous flu.

The audio was recorded on February 7 as part of a series of interviews with veteran journalist Bob Woodward. The same month the audio was recorded, Trump told a White House briefing "the risk to the American people remains very low."

Excerpts from the book were released on September 10, and in another Trump discussed his strategy when talking about the threat posed by COIVD-19:

"I wanted to always play it down."

Trump didn't deny the comments after the tapes were released.

Pundits kept asking the question — "will this damage Trump?".

Before many could answer, another bombshell.

The death of RBG gave Trump a window

On the evening of September 18, US Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died at the age of 87 due to complications from pancreatic cancer.

A progressive talisman and leader of the court's liberal wing, Ginsburg's death gave Trump an opportunity to nominate a new justice before the election.

People gather out the front of the US Supreme Court. One person is holding a sign that says 'we miss RBG' and a rainbow flag
Vigils were held outside the Supreme Court to mark Ginsburg's death.(AP: Cliff Owen)

His eventual nominee, Amy Coney Barett, would drastically expand the conservative majority on the Supreme Court if she is confirmed by the Senate.

Even before Barrett's nomination, pundits said the timing of Ginsburg's death gave Trump a chance to shift the political narrative to more favourable ground.

The question was flipped— "is Barrett's nomination good for Trump?"

On September 26, Trump hosted a ceremony in the White House Rose Garden to officially nominate Barrett. Seated guests were not socially distanced and few wore masks after they were tested before attending.

It's now being viewed as a potential 'super spreader' event after several high profile guests later tested positive for coronavirus.

Donald Trump stands to the right of Amy Coney Barrett on a platform on grass with hundreds of people sat in front of them.
The Rose Garden event where Donald Trump nominated Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.(AP: Alex Brandon)

Then the President's taxes were made public

One of the most sought after pieces of information about Trump made it's way into public view on September 27.

The New York Times published a trove of Donald Trump's tax information covering more than 20 years.

The story alleged Trump paid no federal income taxes in 10 of the past 15 years, and only $US750 ($1,064) each year in 2016 and 2017.

Trump said the story was "fake" and later tweeted that he had paid "many millions of dollars" in taxes.


The New York Times said the initial stories were just the first, and more would be published soon.

Pundits were back to the "will it damage Trump?" question as the next stage of the campaign arrived.

A debate that turned into a 'sh*tshow'

Space to play or pause, M to mute, left and right arrows to seek, up and down arrows for volume.
Donald Trump clashed frequently with moderator Chris Wallace.

The highly-anticipated first presidential debate of the campaign was the first time Trump went face-to-face with his Democratic opponent Joe Biden.

By the time the 90-minute debate ended on September 29, questions were being asked if there should ever be another one.

US commentors called it "the worst debate I have ever seen in my life" and "a sh*tshow".

The moderator, Fox News' Chris Wallace, pinned the blame for the chaotic debate on the President, saying he "bears the primary responsibility for what happened."

The headlines after the debate zeroed in on Trump's constant interruptions, and his failure to condemn white supremacists when asked.

Space to play or pause, M to mute, left and right arrows to seek, up and down arrows for volume.
Donald Trump replies "stand back and stand by" when asked to condemn militia groups.

After initially digging in on his debate answer, two days later Trump told Fox News that he condemns "the KKK, I condemn all White supremacists, I condemn the Proud Boys. I don't know much about the Proud Boys, almost nothing, but I condemn that."

Pundits were still asking the question — "will this damage Trump?".

Then at 12:54am on October 1, Trump tweeted his positive coronavirus diagnosis.

Are there more October Surprises out there?

We're five days into the story of Trump's coronavirus infection, and there is just under one month until election day on November 3.

Pundits, you guessed it, are already weighing up whether this news will damage Trump's re-election hopes.

Donald Trump giving the thumbs up as he heads to hospital in Washington, DC.
Trump's coronavirus diagnosis shocked the world.(AP: Alex Brandon)

Pollsters too, have already tried to check the pulse of American voters. A Reuters/Ipsos poll found that the majority of Americans believed Trump could have avoided being infected if he took COVID-19 more seriously.

The same poll gave Biden a 10-point lead over Trump.

And Americans are already having a say at the ballot box. Mail voting has already started, and early in-person voting has opened up in some states. If this news motivates an American to vote, most don't need to wait another month to do it.

It's impossible to say what lies ahead in the next few weeks. But multiple October Surprises aren't uncommon. In 2016, then-FBI Director James Comey announced he was re-opening an investigation into Hillary Clinton's emails on October 28.

Three weeks earlier, the Access Hollywood tapes were released, where then-candidate Trump bragged about grabbing women "by the p***y".

Then, just as now, pundits asked "will this damage Trump?".

Then, just as now, we'll only know the answer for sure on November 3.

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2020-10-05 06:05:00Z

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