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    07-Oct-2020

Trump Tries to Out-Macho Covid and Signs of Election Defeat

 

AFP

 

U.S. President Donald Trump doubled down Tuesday on the macho image his fans adore, declaring himself cured of Covid-19 and scoffing at disastrous opinion polls only four weeks before election day against Democrat Joe Biden.
 
"FEELING GREAT!" he tweeted on his first day back in the White House following three nights in hospital. He also insisted that he is "looking forward" to holding a second scheduled debate against Biden in Miami on October 15.
 
In a medical bulletin, the presidential doctor said Trump "reports no symptoms" and "continues to do extremely well."
 
However, indicating the breadth of the coronavirus crisis overshadowing Trump, a viral outbreak continued to sweep through his inner circle.
 
In the latest incident, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff and Trump's top military advisor -- General Mark Milley -- went into quarantine following contact with an infected Coast Guard officer, a Pentagon source said.
 
- 'Misleading' information -
 
There had been speculation, even among some Republicans, that Trump might emerge from hospital chastened or at least with a new tone of empathy for the roughly 210,000 Americans who have died from the virus.
 
Instead the Republican has returned to the White House boasting he vanquished the disease that upended the country this year -- and, by extension, that he is still capable of vanquishing his grim odds on election day November 3. 
 
"Maybe I'm immune," he mused on the grand South Portico balcony late Monday after demonstratively taking off the mask which he'd worn back from hospital.
 
He is still being administered an aggressive cocktail of therapeutic drugs, as well being under constant monitoring in case of relapse. Doctors say they won't give the all clear until the start of next week.
 
Yet the way Trump, 74, tells it, Covid-19 was simply no match for him.
 
"Don't let it dominate you. Don't be afraid of it," he urged Americans in his homecoming speech.
 
Tuesday on Twitter he returned to one of his oldest lines of argument used to downplay the seriousness of the pandemic, saying it was comparable to the ordinary flu and "we have learned to live with it."
 
Twitter hid the tweet, saying that it broke the platform's rules on "spreading misleading and potentially harmful information."
 
- Biden's American 'soul' speech -
 
For a president whose brand centers on self-confidence, the entire hospital discharge has clearly been stage managed to convince voters that he has the near superhuman strength to overcome not only Covid-19 but Biden's steadily solidifying lead in the polls.
 
The latest CNN poll published Tuesday gave Biden a national advantage of 57 percent to 41 percent among likely voters.
 
Fifty-two percent of those polled said they have a positive impression of Biden while only 39 percent said they have a positive view of Trump, a historically unpopular leader. Among women, the numbers were cataclysmic for the Republican: 32 percent support to Biden's 66 percent.
 
Biden, 77, was due to give what he promised would be a major speech in Gettysburg, the Pennsylvania battlefield where the Civil War turned decisively in favor of Abraham Lincoln's North over the slave-owning South in 1863.
 
Biden said the speech would address "the soul of America and racial equality and what significant trouble we're in right now."
 
"We have to unite this nation and I've decided to do it from Gettysburg. I've worked on this speech very, very, very hard," he told reporters.
 
His running mate Kamala Harris, meanwhile, was set to debate Vice President Mike Pence in Utah on Wednesday, with a plexiglass barrier for coronavirus prevention between the two.
 
Giving Biden another lift Tuesday, popular former first lady Michelle Obama issued a 24 minute video address in which she branded Trump "racist" and urged people to vote for Biden "like your lives depend on it."
 
- Wrestling the virus -
 
The Trump team's response to the dismal polls is that they don't care.
 
In 2016, many wrote off Trump's chances against the impressively prepared Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. Even much of the Republican party leadership had tried to stop Trump's nomination, fearing the worst.
 
Yet he won and not even the late emergence of an old recording in which he laughingly boasted about sexually assaulting random women could stop him.
 
"The same pollsters had the president down and out in 2016," campaign spokesman Hogan Gidley said Tuesday. "He won the race then and is doing the same thing right now."
 
Trump may yet try another of the so-called pivots that he has periodically delivered during the coronavirus crisis, veering from dismissal of the disease to a graver, more typically presidential message.
 
After leaving Walter Reed, he said he had "learned so much" about the virus.
 
Most likely, though, is more of typical brand Trump -- the almost cartoonishly heroic figure that his hardcore fans love.
 
"He has lived through it and been in the hospital," said longtime right-wing Republican politician Newt Gingrich. "He's fearless. We are not the land of the timid and the home of the scaredy cats."
 
Or as another big Republican, Senator Amy Loeffler, tweeted: "COVID stood NO chance against @realDonaldTrump."
 
Along with that statement was WrestleMania video clip doctored to make it look like Trump was smashing the virus to the floor.
 
 

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