President Donald Trump’s Wednesday night Oval Office primetime address was one he and his close advisors knew would make or break his presidency, both for its impact on the American people during the nationwide coronavirus public health crisis and for its impact on the stock markets.
Bloomberg News reports what the scene inside the White House was like that night.
His aides now see this moment as the most crucial of Trump’s presidency, the time when voters will decide whether he deserves re-election. “We’re going to win or lose right here,” one said. Another said that if the stock market is lower than when Trump took office, it would shatter his claim to being the one person who can keep the economy on track.
The speech, which Trump had promised he would deliver Tuesday, was not only a day late, but “hastily drafted.”
And it failed, and failed miserably.
It included a ban on incoming travel from Europe, which experts say at this point is too little, too late, and one even calls “remarkably pointless.” It also included some “modest and vague” economic measures: passing mentions of paid family leave and small business loans.
After numerous meetings with top advisors, who had been debating what Trump should do all day, it turns out this critical speech “had undergone last-minute edits from the president and one of his senior advisers, Stephen Miller, after other aides had left the room,” Bloomberg News notes.
“Among the changes they made: deleting a sentence where Trump said he and Melania were sending their prayers and love to people suffering from the illness.”
If that weren’t bad enough – showing a modicum of caring and compassion during a time of crisis is what Americans need right now – the speech “contained two significant factual errors and Trump himself inadvertently added another by mixing up his words.”
As many learned, within minutes of Trump delivering the falsehoods on national television, his ban on incoming European travel looks much different from his original statement. But his erroneous remarks panicked many Americans, including reportedly one American who bought a $20,000 ticket to return to the U.S. before the ban would go into effect.
Among the other errors Trump told during his primetime Oval Office address were that he was stopping all cargo from Europe from entering America, and even the time the ban would begin he miscommunicated. He also falsely claimed the nation’s health insurance companies had agreed to pay for all coronavirus testing and treatment, an error they quickly rushed to announce they had not.