Opinion: Trump’s COVID bump

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump returns to the White House after being hospitalized at Walter Reed Medical Center for coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Washington
President Donald Trump poses atop the Truman Balcony of the White House after returning from Walter Reed Medical Center.
REUTERS/Erin Scott

The president’s experience with the coronavirus — and the reaction of some Democrats to the news of his diagnosis — may very well increase the likelihood that he wins re-election.

While at Walter Reed Medical Center, President Donald Trump recorded a four-minute video message to the nation. In it, he clearly articulated why he did not barricade himself in the White House this year, despite constant attacks from the media and Democrats that he was not taking the virus seriously because he continued public events.

In addition to effusively praising the medical professionals at the facility, Trump said, “I had no choice. I just didn’t want to stay in the White House. I was given that alternative: ‘Stay in the White House, lock yourself in, don’t ever leave, don’t even go to the Oval Office, just stay upstairs and enjoy it. Don’t see people.’”

But, he said, “I had to be out front. This is America, this is the United States, this is the greatest country in the world, this is the most powerful country in the world. I can’t be locked up in a room upstairs, totally safe, and just say, ‘Hey whatever happens, happens.’ As a leader you have to confront problems.’”

He concluded by saying, “We’re going to beat this coronavirus.”

For most Americans who are not fueled by their hatred of Trump, these words make complete sense and are a rational explanation of his decision to continue his public appearances rather than staying in a basement.

He should have articulated this message much sooner, but by doing it now — while battling the virus himself — he only amplifies it. Voters still on the fence about the upcoming election, especially in swing states, may very well be swayed to the president’s corner. 

Americans want to see and hear from their president — especially in times of crisis. Like him or not, no one can deny that Trump has been a continued, constant public force throughout the pandemic. And now, Trump can directly identify and relate with those that have been affected by the coronavirus.

Some Democrats outright wished for his death and said he deserved to suffer from the coronavirus. Zara Rahim, who was the national spokeswoman for Hillary Clinton during her 2016 presidential campaign against Trump, and also a staffer to former President Barack Obama tweeted, “It’s been against my moral identity to tweet this for the past four years, but, I hope [Trump] dies.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi all but said the president deserved to get the coronavirus when on MSNBC she likened Trump’s actions to a “sort of a brazen invitation for something like this to happen.”

I don’t see this playing well with key undecided voters.

On Monday, as Trump was preparing to leave Walter Reed he tweeted, “Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life. We have developed…some really great drugs and knowledge.”

My hunch is more Americans believe in this message, rather than in the lockdown doom and gloom one of Dems.

Bob Capano has worked for Brooklyn Republican and Democrat elected officials, and has been an adjunct political science professor for over 15 years. Follow him on twitter @bobcapano.

Editor’s note: More than 200,000 Americans have died of COVID-19.