According to a report from the New York Times, Donald Trump had an opportunity to connect with voters over the dangers of contracting COVID-19, but blew it by getting himself released from Walter Reed Medical Center and then boasting he feels better than he felt 20 years ago.
GOP consultants looking at the president's declining poll number showing many voters expressing dissatisfaction with his bungling of the coronavirus pandemic, said the president could have gained some sympathy by admitting how it devastated his health after sending him to the hospital. Instead, they pointed out, he turned around and said it was no big deal -- the same thing he has been telling his base for months.
According to the Times, conservatives outside the president's circle said he undermined what could have been a plus for his floundering campaign.
"Mr. Trump did little to adhere to the narrative aides were hoping would emerge, one that would benefit him politically. In videos filmed by aides of Mr. Trump behind the scenes, intended to show him working, the president did not mention the hardship the virus had caused to others or that anyone had suffered greatly from it. Nor did he mention the White House staff members who had fallen sick," the Times reported noting that instead, the president returned to form.
With the president boasting, "I feel better than I did 20 years ago,” Brendan Buck, a former advisor to Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) said, "It appears the campaign hasn’t discussed their concept with their candidate.”
Pointing to Trump's bragging that he was feeling great -- despite footage showing him struggling to breathe -- Buck said the president's words didn't match up with how he looked.
Trump's actions “didn’t pass the laugh test for a super serious situation that has ruined millions of people’s lives,” he explained before adding, "You would hope someone who has been in serious health crisis would have a bit of an awakening, find a little religion on this, but he seems incapable of doing that.”
Antonia Ferrier, a former adviser to the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) echoed the sentiment and suggested the president still has a chance to turn things around politically.
“After being released from the hospital, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson showed in personal terms how the virus impacted him — thanking those who helped him get back on his feet, committing to tackling the virus and balancing the challenges facing his country,” she explained. “President Trump has an opportunity to communicate a similarly positive message.”
Liam Donovan, a Republican strategist, differed saying it is likely too late for Trump to take advantage of the public's sympathy.
“With four weeks remaining and nearly four million Americans already casting their votes, it’s awfully late to change perceptions about President Trump or his performance,” he said. "And to the extent voters are open to reassessing their views, the president’s video dispatch from Walter Reed reflected the challenge of what his campaign seeks to do: The initial glimpse of humanity and humility quickly gives way to a rambling monologue that undermines the whole endeavor.”
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