The White House has grown increasingly confident that the public believes President Donald Trump has the pandemic under control, but some Republicans are increasingly concerned about the growing death toll.
The president’s top political aides are feeling better and better about their response to the coronavirus crisis, despite persistent delays in testing results and 1,000 deaths per day, reported Politico.
“COVID is the White House’s focus right now,” one senior White House official told the website. “Our data was showing it was beginning to subside in late May and early June. As the public started giving up on many of the mitigation practices, we had to adapt.”
One former senior administration official said the White House is trying to look like they’re in control, although the pandemic continues to wreak havoc on the economy and daily life, and even some Republicans say the administration remains wildly out of step with reality.
“I would say that they are comparing things to where they were previously,” said one senior Republican who’s close to the White House. “When you compare a disaster to an outright disaster, the disaster does not seem so bad.”
“I don’t feel like they kind of know what ‘under control’ would look like,” that official added. “They are doing their best. It is just one of those situations. I don’t feel like even they know what the goal is.”
Some of the president’s allies have questioned whether it was a good idea to resume his daily coronavirus briefings, where Trump repeatedly assures the public the virus will eventually “disappear,” but White House officials insist those are helpful to his re-election chances.
“President Trump has led an historic, whole-of-America coronavirus response — resulting in 100,000 ventilators procured, sourcing critical PPE for our frontline heroes and a robust testing regime resulting in more than double the number of tests than any other country in the world,” said White House deputy press secretary Sarah Matthews. “This leadership will continue as we reopen the economy, expedite development of a vaccine and therapeutics and continue to see an encouraging decline in the U.S. mortality rate.”
But some of the president’s allies agree the administration made matters worse by downplaying the threat from COVID-19 and pushing states to reopen too soon, and they doubt the president can talk his way out of the ballooning crisis.
“It doesn’t do a whole lot for clarity for the general public or confidence-building,” said one outside adviser. “His leadership style and his model do not always invite a multifaceted approach.”