A coronavirus-infected Trump ‘refocuses’ 2020 election, says UH professor
President Donald Trump announced him and first lady Melania Trump have both tested positive for the coronavirus on Twitter early Friday morning.
After downplaying the severity of the coronavirus since March, Trump’s diagnosis brings the pandemic into even sharper focus for the upcoming election.
“The diagnosis refocuses debate in the 2020 election around the coronavirus even more than before,” said political science professor Brandon Rottinghaus.
“If it wasn’t a referendum on President Trump’s handling of the virus, it certainly is now,” Rottinghaus added.
Trump currently exhibits only mild cold-like symptoms, according to people aware of his physical condition.
If Trump’s health worsens and prevents him from working, Vice President Mike Pence will take over the presidential seat. Pence has tested negative for coronavirus.
Trump’s diagnosis should not pose a threat to national security if the procedure is followed, Rottinghaus said.
“We know from past White Houses that there is a procedure for every eventuality involving the president,” Rottinghaus said.
“Following security protocols, the president will need to quarantine separately from the vice president and the speaker of the house to ensure continuity of government,” Rottinghaus continued.
With just 32 days left until Election Day, Trump will be forced off the campaign trail and into isolation due to his positive test.
The next presidential debate, scheduled for Oct. 15 in Miami, remains uncertain.
“The likelihood is that the debates are canceled or move to an online format, like so much of all of our lives,” Rottinghaus said.
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