On Thursday, The New York Times reported that some GOP lawmakers friendly with President Donald Trump are starting to worry his daily coronavirus press briefing appearances are hurting him — and think that he should bow out and leave the briefings to the experts.
“In his daily briefings on the coronavirus, President Trump has brandished all the familiar tools in his rhetorical arsenal: belittling Democratic governors, demonizing the media, trading in innuendo and bulldozing over the guidance of experts,” wrote Jonathan Martin and Maggie Haberman. “It’s the kind of performance the president relishes, but one that has his advisers and Republican allies worried.”
The report continued: “As unemployment soars and the death toll skyrockets, and new polls show support for the president’s handling of the crisis sagging, White House allies and Republican lawmakers increasingly believe the briefings are hurting the president more than helping him. Many view the sessions as a kind of original sin from which all of his missteps flow, once he gets through his prepared script and turns to his preferred style of extemporaneous bluster and invective.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) reportedly believes Trump “sometimes drowns out his own message” at these conferences and that “I told him your opponent is no longer Joe Biden — it’s this virus.” He believes that “once-a-week” briefings would probably make more sense. Meanwhile, Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) believes the pressers are “going off the rails a little bit” and wants Trump to “let the health professionals guide where we’re going to go.”
Rep. Paul Mitchell (R-MI) agreed, saying “It is not helpful to hurl names and talk badly about people. We need to focus on the problem.”
“The consternation reflects a new sense of urgency over Mr. Trump’s re-election efforts as Joseph R. Biden Jr. emerges as his likely Democratic challenger,” said the report. “Three new polls this week show Mr. Biden leading the president, and the Trump campaign’s internal surveys show he has mostly lost the initial bump he received early in the crisis, according to three people briefed on the numbers. Public polls show he badly trails the nation’s governors and his own medical experts in terms of whom Americans trust most for guidance.”
“Some of Mr. Trump’s aides have quietly suggested to him that he ratchet back his public attacks on the governors who have emerged as leaders in the response to the virus,” continued the report. “But they acknowledge their efforts can be something of a fool’s errand; the president has his style and he won’t change, they say.”
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