President Donald Trump at the White House daily coronavirus briefing on Sunday.
President Donald Trump is shifting blame for the coronavirus response to US governors in a bid to win reelection in November, senior administration officials and Trump advisers told Politico on Monday.
One Trump adviser told the outlet: “Blame and credit will shift to the governors, considering they are the ones making the calls.”
Trump has also sought to evade blame for the country’s high number of coronavirus cases and deaths by calling out China and the World Health Organization.
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As the 2020 election kicks into high gear, President Trump won’t just be going toe-to-toe with likely Democratic nominee Joe Biden.
Senior administration officials and Trump advisers told Politico that the president is purposefully starting feuds with some of the nation’s governors over their coronavirus response in a bid to win his reelection.
By critiquing how governors handle the crisis, Trump will be able to distract from his own shortcomings in responding to the outbreak, which many found too slow.
The sources who spoke to Politico said to expect Trump’s feuds to escalate in the coming days, as he pushes for the US economy to be reopened — something that the governors have said they alone will decide.
“People’s initial reaction is always to look to the president, but as time goes on and it becomes clear other states are doing other things, that blame and credit will shift to the governors, considering they are the ones making the calls,” one Trump political adviser said.
At Sunday’s coronavirus press briefing, Trump played a clip of Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York praising the federal government’s coronavirus response, with a portion edited out in which Cuomo was critical of the president.
It also appears that the White House is setting governors up for failure when it comes to their individual coronavirus responses.
For example, in the White House’s reopening guidelines, states are allowed to conduct testing on anyone who shows coronavirus symptoms. But some governors say they’ve struggled to get their hands on these tests, which could turn their citizens against them if they start to question why more testing isn’t being done in their state.
Starting public feuds is something Trump used to his advantage in his first presidential campaign, first by singling out his main competitors in the Republican field like “low-energy Jeb” Bush and “Lyin’ Ted” Cruz, then lobbing attack after attack on “Crooked Hillary” Clinton on Twitter.
Indeed, it’s a tactic he’s deployed for much of his career, as one Trump expert pointed out to Politico.
“This idea that you grab credit for everything and push responsibility off on others is something long-standing with him,” Michael D’Antonio, author of the biography “The Truth About Trump,” said.
“When he went through his big bankruptcies in the early 1990s, he basically blamed his lenders and said they were responsible because they made the loans. He was not responsible because he failed to pay them back.”
Governors aren’t the only ones Trump is blaming when it comes to the US’ high coronavirus cases.
Trump has also criticized China’s failure to contain the outbreak at its onset, and has repeatedly labeled it the “Chinese virus.”
The president has also blamed the World Health Organization of mismanaging the global response, and announced plans to cut off funding to the health agency last week.
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