President Donald Trump's advisers got him to pay more attention to the COVID-19 pandemic by informing him that the surge in cases is hurting "our people" in Republican states, an administration official told The Washington Post.
The tactic has seemed to "resonate" with Trump, The Post reported on Monday, as the president "hewed closely to pre-scripted remarks" in subsequent news briefings.
Previously, the president had been losing interest in a pandemic that has cost an average of 850 deaths a day and killed more than 147,000 Americans.
"The president got bored with it," David Carney, an adviser to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, told The New York Times earlier this month.
President Donald Trump was "bored" with the pandemic, seeing it — an average of 850 deaths, each day, since February — as a distraction from all of the "wins," from a new trade deal to a soaring stock market, he wishes he could campaign on instead.
But then senior advisers tried a new approach: they told the president that the coronavirus wasn't just killing liberals in blue states, but hurting Republicans and could spread in swing states.
"Our people." That's the term one senior Trump administration official used in an interview with The Washington Post. On Monday, the paper reported that senior advisers to the president had begun providing him "maps and data showing spikes in coronavirus cases among 'our people' in Republican states."
It worked, The Post reported, the tactic seemed "to resonate" with the president, who then "hewed closely to pre-scripted remarks" in subsequent news briefings. While the messaging on face coverings remained incoherent — they're not without their own problems, Trump claimed — the president was allowing himself to be seen with a mask on, heeding the urging of Republicans battling the coronavirus in their home states.
The Post also reported that the White House has resumed a pared-down "coronavirus working group" headed by Dr. Deborah Birx and his son-in-law and White House adviser Jared Kushner, which is "half focused on the government's response to the pandemic and half focused on the White House's public message," The Post reported. (There was no mention of leading infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci.)
Prior to the recent briefings, Trump had lost interest in the coronavirus, according to Republicans who deal with him. According to The New York Times, GOP governors and some senators were breaking ranks on the issue of Masks, others said they were dealing exclusively with Vice President Mike Pence on issues related to handling the spread of the virus. On a late June conference call, a governor asked Pence to help with the administration's "complacency" about the virus.
"The president got bored with it," David Carney, an adviser to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, told The Times earlier this month.
With the virus surging in states the president needs to win should he wish to be reelected in November — Florida, in particular — he is, at least for now, paying closer to its lethal impact on his fellow Americans.
"The president has also led an historic, whole-of-America coronavirus response — resulting in 100,000 ventilators procured, sourcing critical PPE for our front-line heroes, and a robust testing regime resulting in more than double the number of tests than any other country in the world," White House deputy press secretary Sarah Matthews told The Post.
The novel coronavirus has infected more than 4 million Americans and killed more than 147,000, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
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