In the space of 7 days, Donald Trump was tested positive for Covid-19, along with at least 34 members of the White House team. Joe Biden tested negative. After the drama – the helicopter return back to the White House, the theatre – the tour in the car waving to supporters outside the hospital – and the danger – for the weekend no one knew the true health of the President of the United States, what does this mean for the election campaign?
- The Trump campaign was the one that needed to move the numbers. And move the debate away from Covid – these events have propelled that to the fore of the agenda. Perhaps it always very unlikely Covid would be overshadowed in this campaign – this week’s figures showing the infection rate to be on the increase in 23 states and only declining in 4.
- Trump taking possibly another week off from the campaign, gives more cover for Biden to do the same and continue his (so far successful) do little strategy.
Further problems for the Trump campaign: 50% of voters believe Biden is best to handle the economy, compared to 48% for Trump. This is an area where Republicans historically lead, and Trump needed a far bigger margin here to overcome Covid difficulties.
The New England Journal of Medicine has for the first time in its 208 year history taken a political stance. The editorial reads ‘with no good options to combat a novel pathogen, countries were forced to make hard choices. Our leaders in the United States failed that test. They have taken a crisis and turned it into a tragedy’
Meanwhile Wednesday Night’s VP debate revealed how both teams wanted to move away from the first presidential debate. ‘Neither candidate brought the brio and fire that defined the first presidential debate, lapsing at many points into rehearsed talking points. Nor was there a major misstep or effort to trop new ground in a way likely to disrupt the race, which has remained remarkably stable since the last summer’.
Yesterday it was announced that the next Presidential debate on the 15th October would ‘take place remotely’. As a result, Donald Trump has refused to take part. The President said the move was designed to ‘protect’ his rival.
US Employment data showed unemployment continues to fall but at a slowing rate. Permanent Job losses are now at 3.8million and temporary layoffs total 4.6million. This means Trump is the only President except Bush in 2004 (who saw 605,000 jobs lost) to lose jobs between his inauguration and the following election.
Hours after Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell warned of ‘tragic’ economic consequences if the White House and Congress didn’t agree on further emergency relief spending, Trump shocked even his own side by pulling ‘the plug on negotiations’. The average unemployment payment fell from $900 a week to just over $300 at the end of July, and Republicans fighting tough Senate races such as Suzan Collins have voiced objections to this move: ‘waiting until after the next election to agree a relief package is a huge mistake’.