Trump steps back, done with being ‘daily voice’ of coronavirus response
WASHINGTON — As the country is hit with record numbers of coronavirus cases, some states are halting their reopenings, and hospitals in hot spots are becoming overwhelmed, President Donald Trump has largely stayed in a place you don’t often find him: the sidelines.
The president’s lower profile is by design, a senior administration official said.
The latest hope among top aides is that by keeping Trump distanced from the day-to-day, the administration can depoliticize the virus response, the official said. Trump’s comments on everything from masks to taking an experimental drug have ignited controversy and have drawn him into battles with Democrats and public health experts. One outside adviser said he has cautioned for months that there is only a downside in having Trump as the public face of the response.
The president made only a few passing references to the surging number of cases this week, saying during a speech on the economy that there are “some areas where we’re putting out the flames or the fires and that’s working out well.” In an interview with Fox Business Network on Wednesday, Trump said of the virus, “I think that at some point that’s going to sort of just disappear, I hope.”
Instead, the president focused most of his firepower on defending monuments and military bases honoring Confederate leaders, promoting the economy, making unsubstantiated allegations over mail-in voting and attacking the media. During a speech at Mount Rushmore on Friday, he attacked people who want to remove Confederate, patriarchal and colonial monuments as a threat to the country’s existence, only briefly mentioning the virus that has killed more than 129,000 Americans.