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Minggu, 04 Oktober 2020

Prognosis unknown for Donald Trump, his campaign and the US - The Australian

Donald Trump at work in the Presidential Suite at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. Picture: The White House
Donald Trump at work in the Presidential Suite at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. Picture: The White House

This is more than an extraordinary moment in Washington, it is an extraordinary moment in American history.

A US president sits in hospital with a potentially deadly virus for which there is no cure on the eve of a presidential election.

The White House gives mixed signals about Donald Trump’s health, with his medical spokesman saying he is doing well, while his chief of staff says the 74-year-old is not out of the woods, calling his condition “very concerning”.

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I heard the President’s chopper fly over my house as he was being taken to the hospital with news alerts pinging on my phone. The events are dizzying for Americans as they comprehend the unprecedented events of recent days.

On top of this, the coronavirus has ripped through the President’s inner circle and his campaign team. The White House has become a coronavirus hotspot in a nation full of them.

Those who would drive Trump’s campaign in his absence — his campaign manager Bill Stepien, Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel and close advisers Hope Hicks, Kellyanne Conway and now Chris Christie have all tested positive in recent days. Add to that list, first lady Melania Trump.

Throw in three Republican senators who have also now tested positive, forcing the Senate to halt voting for the next week and throwing into doubt the confirmation process for Supreme Court nominee judge Amy Barrett.

Donald Trump reassures his supporters in a video from his hospital suite.
Donald Trump reassures his supporters in a video from his hospital suite.

The President’s inner circle — those who are not sick — are palpably shocked by this sudden disastrous turn of events and are pondering how to keep the Trump campaign rolling.

With four weeks left until the election and with Trump trailing his Democrat opponent Joe Biden by 7.4 points, the Trump campaign is trying to work out a way forward.

If Trump gets only a mild dose of the virus, should he tweet from his hospital bed and remain an ­active part of the campaign? Or is it smarter for an ill president to mostly maintain radio silence, which is more or less what he did until Sunday, when in a video from hospital Trump said he was feeling “much better now” and the next few days would be “the real test”.

Of course, these political questions become irrelevant to the bigger humanitarian picture if Trump suddenly becomes very sick.

Two very different streams of thought are emerging in Washington about what Trump’s illness means for the November 3 election.

The first is that Trump contracting COVID-19 all but sinks his chances of winning the election. According to this theory, Trump contracting the virus makes the President Exhibit A in his inability to protect Americans from the pandemic that has killed more than 210,000. His infection will make the coronavirus the dominant focus of the rest of the campaign when Trump was trying to shift it to issues like the economy, law and order and the Supreme Court. His infection also takes Trump off the physical campaign trail for at least two weeks and possibly longer, meaning he can’t hold the rallies that give him prime-time TV exposure and that energise his campaign. It stops him from holding daily press conferences at the White House or other events that allow him to dominate the political space. Without this exposure, how can he produce a game-changing moment that allows him to catch Biden’s increasingly formidable looking lead?

Supporters of Donald Trump participate in a boat rally in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Picture: AFP
Supporters of Donald Trump participate in a boat rally in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Picture: AFP

The second theory is that Trump catching the coronavirus IS the game-changer, although it is not one that you would wish upon anyone.

This theory holds that Americans are a deeply patriotic people and have a history of rallying around sick or injured presidents, just as they did when Ronald Reagan was shot. It is not just Americans who react in this way. Britain’s Boris Johnson and Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro saw their popularity rise after they caught the coronavirus.

If Trump recovers from the virus quickly — as all decent people should hope for, regardless of their politics — he may be able to return to the hustings in the final weeks of the campaign with the message of “Look at me, I am a fighter and I have come through — I will fight for you, also”.

The optics of this would be frightening to the Biden campaign. For now, no one can know which of these theories — if either — will turn out to be true. There are so many unknowns, so many twists and turns ahead, that anyone who claims to know what comes next in this unprecedented American moment is nothing more than a riverboat gambler.

Cameron Stewart is also US contributor for Sky News Australia

US President Donald Trump “appears to be holding up well” following his recent COVID-19 diagnosis says Sky News host Sharri Markson.

Washington Correspondent

Cameron Stewart has been The Australian’s Washington Correspondent covering North America since early 2017. This is his second US posting, having previously been The Australian’s New York correspondent the lat...

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https://news.google.com/__i/rss/rd/articles/CBMijQFodHRwczovL3d3dy50aGVhdXN0cmFsaWFuLmNvbS5hdS93b3JsZC9wcm9nbm9zaXMtdW5rbm93bi1mb3ItZG9uYWxkLXRydW1wLWhpcy1jYW1wYWlnbi1hbmQtdGhlLXVzL25ld3Mtc3RvcnkvZDBkNTg3NDdmYzM0ZTE3ZjVkMWJhODMyZTM2ZjlhNzHSAY0BaHR0cHM6Ly9hbXAudGhlYXVzdHJhbGlhbi5jb20uYXUvd29ybGQvcHJvZ25vc2lzLXVua25vd24tZm9yLWRvbmFsZC10cnVtcC1oaXMtY2FtcGFpZ24tYW5kLXRoZS11cy9uZXdzLXN0b3J5L2QwZDU4NzQ3ZmMzNGUxN2Y1ZDFiYTgzMmUzNmY5YTcx?oc=5

2020-10-05 01:47:00Z
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