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Trump to relaunch his coronavirus briefings as polls slide

The president has consistently sought to play down the severity of the health crisis (Getty)

Date of publication: 21 July, 2020

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US President Donald Trump said he will soon resume his televised coronavirus briefings, signalling a bid to regain control of the message.
US President Donald Trump said Monday he will soon resume his televised coronavirus briefings, signalling a bid to regain control of the message when public dismay at his handling of the pandemic risks sinking his reelection bid.

A fierce surge of COVID-19 case in populous states like Florida and Texas is straining Trump's sunny insistence that the virus will just "disappear" to its breaking point.

Polls show public trust in his management of the crisis plummeting and predict a drubbing by Democratic challenger Joe Biden in the election in just over 100 days.

Trump, a lifelong real estate salesman and more recently reality TV performer, says the real problem is that Americans just aren't hearing the right news.

So probably from Tuesday, he will resume the regular evening televised briefings from the White House that he did until late April - often finding himself accused of giving confusing or misleading information.

Read also: Stephen Miller goes on a mission to make America white again

"I think it's a great way to get information out to the public," he told reporters. "We're doing very well in so many different ways."

Trump acknowledged a "big flare-up" of cases across the south and west of the country but once again distanced himself from responsibility for the problem, underlining that the disease is also ravaging "Mexico, Brazil, many countries in Europe, all over, Russia."

"When you watch the news, the local news, and you see it, and it's, it's like all about the United States. They never like to talk about what's going on in the world," he said.

Trump said the briefings would focus on good news regarding vaccine development and therapeutics.

"We think we're doing very well in that regard," he said. "I think I'm going to be bringing in some of the great companies that are working very successfully."

"We're really coming up with some very good answers," he said.

PR fiasco

Trump has great faith in his ability before the cameras. He has transformed the image of the US presidency during his first term with unprecedented streams of press conferences, tweets and rallies.

But his previous spell as the nation's pandemic-spokesman in chief ended badly in late April.

Trump often turned what were billed as opportunities to provide the anxious public with information into testy exchanges with reporters in the White House briefing room.

He finally ditched the events after a PR fiasco where he mused on air about the possibility of injecting household disinfectant to combat COVID-19.

He later said he had been speaking "sarcastically," although there was no evidence of that at the time.

Polls slide

The president has consistently sought to play down the severity of the health crisis, hoping that voters will instead focus on what he touts as his good management of the economy.

In an interview with "Fox News Sunday," he once again claimed that the virus, which has killed more than 140,000 Americans and caused massive economic disruption, would somehow go away by itself.

"I'll be right eventually," he said.

But with the virus on the rebound, he finds himself accused of failing to lead.

Biden has opened a double-digit lead in election polls, and an ABC/ Washington Post poll released Friday showed nearly two-thirds of Americans mistrust Trump on the coronavirus.

Trump, nevertheless, appears to be looking forward to his chance to get back to the briefing room podium.

"We had very successful briefings. I was doing them and we had a lot of people watching, record numbers watching. In the history of cable television, there's never been anything like it," he said.

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