The President contracting the coronavirus is, as you’ve seen watching the news, a big deal that raises many questions.
First published in October 2020.
First, when I worked at the White House the most challenging briefings we did was when the President was ill or undergoing a procedure at the hospital. Why challenging? The media has a lot of questions, which means you need a lot of answers, and the credibility of the briefer is essential. This White House has an understandable problem with credibility. So it will be difficult to trust any information the press secretary or others give.
Second, how widespread now is the virus in the White House and beyond? Contact tracing on this will be next to impossible because many folks were potentially exposed to the President and his aide, Hope Hicks. Donald Trump famously and unapologetically seldom wore a mask. People in contact with the President rarely wore a mask because he didn’t like the image it sent to the country. He’s been downplaying the virus and no masks fit into that. This means, obviously, many were possibly exposed (the wearing of a mask, remember, protects you and others from spreading the virus).
Third, I wonder if Ms Hicks got the virus first or the President got it first. We likely will never know.
Fourth, spread in this case is potentially to his Cabinet members, his staff and others who have been in touch with him or people in touch with him or Hicks. That means leaders in the Congress, the people who attended his fund-raising events which were held in smaller rooms and he wore no mask and I’m guessing there was a lot of hand-shaking. The same goes for others who were in contact with him. Also, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who was among those preparing Trump for the debate, said no one in the small room those briefings were held wore a mask. There were, he said five or six people in the room and one can assume they were major players. One was Hicks.
Fifth, how does it affect the campaign? The election will be held Nov. 3, there is no changing that. Should former Vice President Joe Biden suspend his campaign while the President deals with the disease? No. I doubt the President would if the situation was reversed, plus the American people are voting right now and others are still deciding who to support. The debates are a different question because obviously the President can’t attend if his condition continues.
There are many more questions, of course. Most importantly is the President and Mrs. Trump’s health – and, whatever I may think of his conduct in office, I hope he makes a full and swift recovery.
Next, is how we get accurate information on his condition. His record on reporting his health has been poor so far – from the letter he wrote and his doctor signed pre-taking office to that more recent trip to the hospital for which a reason was never given.
The people have a right to know the health of their President.🔷
B. Jay Cooper, former deputy White House press secretary to Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush.
Check their Voting Record:
🗳️ Donald Trump
🗳️ Joe Biden