President Donald Trump's supporters are divided over how seriously to take the coronavirus outbreak -- but they all seem to agree the outbreak could sink his re-election chances.
Even the most ardent MAGA supporters agree that Trump must control COVID-19's spread and save the economy to win the 2020 election, and they seem to understand the risks involved, reported Politico.
“If, for a second, people think that he doesn't have that strength, or he doesn't have that fortitude, then it will become a problem,” said War Room host and former Breitbart editor Raheem Kassam, who believes he may have been ill from the virus after attending the annual Conservative Political Action Conference.
Students for Trump founder Ryan Fournier doesn't understand the "panic" over a virus that delivers "mild" symptoms to 80 percent of patients, but he understands the outbreak will be a major test of the president's leadership.
“Every president has the sort of out-of-the blue instances that happen that you can’t really plan for and it tests your leadership ability. It tests everything,” Fournier said, “and I think it is a fair assessment to say that the president has to exert strength here.”
The divide is playing out on Fox News, where some hosts seem to be taking the outbreak seriously while others portray it as another "deep state" plot to undermine the president, but many Trump supporters are concerned.
“I would think that the very pro-Trump people maybe would like to downplay this, but actually, I don't even think that,” said Chris Buskirk, editor in chief of the right-wing magazine American Greatness. “Because on this particular issue, the nationalist-MAGA crowd are all over the place. It’s totally individual.”
Trump and many of his supporters have played down the virus as comparable to the flu, but some conservatives say that's not going to work as COVID-19 continues to spread and starts claiming more lives.
“Trump was comparing flu statistics to coronavirus statistics,” said Will Chamberlain, editor in chief of Human Events. “Well, that’s the same mistake that people make when they say, ‘Why do you care more about terrorism? Terrorism kills so many fewer people in car accidents every year.’ The answer is, ‘Because if something goes really wrong in terrorism, they could do unbelievably dramatic damage.’ Same logic here.”
Trump's response to the virus has led some conservatives to question whether he even believes in the nationalism he espouses.
“When the president had a crisis that hit that would have, theoretically, been designed perfectly for the nationalist argument, he didn't reach for it," said Seth Mandel, editor in chief of the conservative Washington Examiner. "So maybe he doesn't really believe it.”