Trump campaign pushes message of ‘resilience’ in hope of turning COVID-19 illness into ‘electoral asset’

Trump campaign pushes message of ‘resilience’ in hope of turning COVID-19 illness into ‘electoral asset’
President Donald J. Trump, joined by Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, participates in a phone call with Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley and National Security Advisor Robert O'Brien Sunday, Oct. 4, 2020, in his conference room at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. (Official White House Photo by Tia Dufour)

Optimists were hoping that after being hospitalized with the COVID-19 coronavirus, President Donald Trump would quit downplaying its severity. Instead, the president — who is back at the White House after being released from Walter Reed Military Medical Center on October 5 — is arguing that his ability to survive COVID-19 shows that Americans shouldn't be afraid of it. Daily Beast journalists Asawin Suebsaeng, Sam Stein and Lachlan Markay examine Trump's new coronavirus messaging in an article published on October 6, stressing that the president is making an "effort to turn his illness into an electoral asset."

"The president's stint in the Military Medical Center may have raised serious questions about his political future and his physical status, with doctors giving him a trio of therapeutics and his physician acknowledging that he is not yet out of the woods," the Beast reporters explain. "But during his time away from the White House, Trump spent his weekend frantically working the phones, compulsively watching TV and flagrantly disregarding the advice of his own public health officials."

Suebsaeng, Stein and Markay report that according to the Beast's sources, Trump asked his advisers and aides, "How is it playing?" during his hospitalization. And Trump, they report, is now trying to paint himself as "both resilient and empathetic."

"The president repeatedly claimed that once he recovers from the coronavirus — for which First Lady Melania Trump, his campaign manager, debate sparring partner, press secretary, and other aides also tested positive — he'll be able to present himself as a conqueror of it, both personally and politically," the Beast journalists report.

According to Suebsaeng, Stein and Markay, Trump's campaign is not only trying to turn his illness into an "electoral asset," but has "also tried to turn it into a cash cow." In an e-mail sent this week, fundraisers for Trump's campaign and the Republican National Committee declared, "As the leader of the Free World, President Trump had no choice. He didn't want to stay in the White House and lock himself in, away from the American people."

In a different fundraising e-mail, Trump's son, Donald Trump Jr., told Republicans, "We are in the final stretch of this election, and while my father is working hard to get back on the road as quickly as possible, it's up to us to keep our movement strong for his EPIC RETURN."

But Suebsaeng, Stein and Markay emphasize that with the "death toll" from COVID-19 "continuing to climb," millions of Americans aren't buying "the rosy picture the White House has tried to paint."

On October 5, they point out, leading immunologist Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN, "I'm actually disturbed and concerned about the fact that our baseline of infections is still stuck at 40,000 cases a day. That's no place to be."

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