One of Republicans’ challenges this week has been recasting Trump as an effective crisis-time leader. Many Americans say in polls he mishandled the coronavirus pandemic, a view Trump’s advisers hope to change.
Using revisionist history, they have tried to rewrite his approach to the crisis — though a top-down decision this week to restrict testing only amplifies the impression he’s continuing to downplay the outbreak.
Yet as the week progresses he’s also faced a spate of real-time crises, including a serious hurricane bearing down on the Gulf Coast and unrest in Wisconsin.
White House officials say Trump has been monitoring the storm closely, though they have not suggested he would alter his convention plans — unlike the 2008 and 2012 Republican National Conventions, which were both truncated because of hurricanes. Trump tweeted a photo on Wednesday from an Oval Office storm briefing. Trump traveled to FEMA’s headquarters ahead of today’s speech to receive a storm briefing.
Hurricane Laura is the first major weather event to occur during the coronavirus pandemic, though wildfires have also been ravaging parts of Northern California this week (Trump blamed the state, saying, “You gotta clean your floors”).
Laura has weakened into a tropical storm. Earlier this morning, it made landfall near Cameron, Louisiana, as a Category 4 hurricane. So far at least six deaths have been reported, as well as widespread damage.
Trump has always shown greater willingness to appear engaged when disasters strike states that voted for him — and the storm tracked toward Louisiana and Texas.
This is an instance where having the convention at the White House — opposed to an arena in Charlotte, North Carolina, or Jacksonville, Florida — could benefit Trump. Because he remains in Washington, he’s able to say he’s monitoring the storm from his Oval Office command center — even if his attention remains on his reelection campaign.