Team Trump is rushing to rewrite the early narrative about the president’s response to coronavirus.
Faced with endless video clips of Donald Trump downplaying the escalating outbreak, Trump aides and allies are working furiously to instead highlight the president’s recent actions and comments.
Their effort comprises three tactics: Blanket supporters with detailed timelines of every action the Trump administration took. Amplify praise of those actions. And forcefully push back against anyone who criticizes those actions.
Just over seven months from the November election, Trump’s aides and allies realize the president’s campaign for a second term has been completely transformed in a matter of weeks. It will now come down to his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and his response to a devastated economy, according to seven people familiar with the situation, including four who speak directly with the president.
“The president and his performance is the campaign. It’s the only thing that matters,” said Scott Jennings, who worked for President George W. Bush and is close to the Trump White House. “There is nothing to do if you are the sitting president of the United States but to get it right. If you get it right, what better argument for reelection than this unprecedented crisis?”
The Trump campaign had wanted to focus on a long list of other issues as the president launched a general election race against Democrat Joe Biden: the president’s impeachment acquittal, Biden’s acuity and overseas actions by Biden’s son, Hunter.
Instead, it has shifted almost entirely to rehabilitating Trump’s handling of the coronavirus crisis.