Apr 10, 2020 - Politics & Policy

GOP worries Trump has only weeks to sharpen coronavirus response

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Republicans are increasingly concerned not only about President Trump’s daily briefings but also his broader plan to ease the nation out of the virus crisis and back to work. This concern is acute — and spreading. 

Why it matters: Trump can easily address the briefing worries by doing fewer, but the lackluster bounce-back planning is what worries Republicans most. 

  • Some think he has only weeks to figure it out. The consequences of failure would be a November defeat, some warn. 

Trump built his re-election pitch on the idea the U.S. has seen historic prosperity under his leadership, but now the economy is in shambles.

  • "The next 4-8 weeks is really going to decide whether Trump gets re-elected," Stephen Moore, Trump's former nominee for the Fed board, told Axios.

Club for Growth President David McIntosh, a former Indiana congressman and ally of Vice President Pence, says not enough attention is being paid to the post-virus economy.

  • "I don't think [Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin] has yet started thinking about that long-term, how do we incentivize the rapid recovery or the V-shape bounce back?" he told Axios.
  • "I understand their planning process, to deal with emergency, but now it's time to start thinking of the exit strategy."

Some Trump aides and Republican lawmakers increasingly believe his daily briefings are hurting him more than helping, "and are urging him to let his medical experts take center stage," the N.Y. Times reports.

  • Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said Trump "sometimes drowns out his own message," and told him "a once-a-week show" could be more effective.

The conservative Wall Street Journal editorial page hit him yesterday with "Trump’s Wasted Briefings," saying they often deteriorate "into a dispiriting brawl between the president and his antagonists in the White House press corps":

Every reporter knows the way to get a TV moment, and get a pat on the back from newsroom pals, is to bait Mr. Trump with a question about his previous statements or about criticism that someone has leveled against him. Mr. Trump always takes the bait.

🐦 Trump took the bait, tweeting:

  • "The Wall Street Journal always 'forgets' to mention that the ratings for the White House Press Briefings are 'through the roof' ... & is only way for me to escape the Fake News & get my views across. WSJ is Fake News!"

What's next: Trump, increasingly frustrated with the pandemic's bite on the economy, is preparing to launch a second coronavirus task force focused on economic recovery.

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