President Donald Trump announced in early October that he had tested positive for the coronavirus. On Oct. 5, Trump told Americans he was feeling great and that they shouldn’t let the potentially deadly virus “dominate” life, sparking intense backlash from those who criticized his rather optimistic tone.
“I will be leaving the great Walter Reed Medical Center today at 6:30 P.M. Feeling really good! Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life. We have developed, under the Trump administration, some really great drugs & knowledge. I feel better than I did 20 years ago!”
I will be leaving the great Walter Reed Medical Center today at 6:30 P.M. Feeling really good! Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life. We have developed, under the Trump Administration, some really great drugs & knowledge. I feel better than I did 20 years ago!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 5, 2020
However, John Feehery, a partner of a boutique lobbying and strategic advocacy firm EFB Advocacy and columnist for The Hill, told the Daily Caller that Trump’s optimism following the diagnosis could actually swing some voters.
“I do think that among people who are undecided–if he handles this the right way–this can move them toward him,” Feehery said.
“I think the positive mental attitude he brings to it works. People need to understand most people who get COVID-19 don’t die, and so him being able to face this down is a net positive because people need to know, COVID-19 is not a death sentence.”
The case-fatality rate for the coronavirus in the United States is 2.8 percent, according to data from Johns Hopkins. (RELATED: ‘Not Going To Waste My Time’ – Trump Announces He’ll Skip Second Debate After Commission Decides To Make It Virtual)
However, Feehery said Trump should be focusing his efforts on talking about the economy in the weeks leading up to Election Day.
“He needs to be talking about the economy, and this diagnosis pushed COVID-19 back on the center of the stage, but I do think him overcoming it quickly gives him some momentum.”
Karen Finney, a strategist who worked for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, echoed a similar sentiment to Feehery, noting that the economy is an important topic, but Trump’s diagnosis could steer attention away.
“COVID is going to continue to be front and center because it is front and center in the lives of the American people,” Finney said in an interview with NPR. “And it is connected to the economy. I mean, it’s our health care. It’s our economy. It’s our future. And certainly, seeing the president diagnosed with COVID, it adds to, I think, scaring the American people.”
Geoff Garin, a Democratic pollster, told The New York Times that Trump’s diagnosis could hurt his chances, even among the president’s supporters.
“Trump is now in the position of becoming exhibit No. 1 for the failure of his leadership on coronavirus, and he runs the risk that his supporters will feel misled by his dismissiveness of the virus and the need for precautions,” he said.