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Coronavirus: Trump's approval ratings crash as he's accused of downplaying outbreak to save re-election bid

This at a time when the economy has taken a beating and the country is staring at a complete lockdown because of the pandemic
UPDATED MAR 20, 2020
(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Just when President Donald Trump was looking to run away with his re-election campaign, he faced a major challenge: Not from the Democratic Party, but from novel coronavirus. His administration has struggled to convince people over its response to the pandemic that has affected over 1,700 people in the US and killed over 40. The economy has taken a beating and the country is staring at a complete lockdown.

And amid the challenges, Trump’s own approval rating has slipped alarmingly amid the outbreak. 

Trump, who managed to keep his ratings up despite being impeached in the House over his controversial actions over Ukraine, is finding it tough in the face of the COVID-19 challenge. According to Rasmussen Reports, the Republican leader’s approval index fell down from plus one on February 25 to minus 11 on March 11. 

According to FiveThirtyEight aggregate of polls, Trump’s net approval rating fell down from minus 8.9 on February 24 to minus 10.8 on March 12.

As per RealClearPolitics average of polls, the President’s net disapproval rate rose from 4.3 on February 26 to 8.8 a couple of weeks later. 

While opposition presidential candidates like Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders have accelerated their attack Trump over his administration’s response to coronavirus and his campaign has tried to strike a balance by accusing the opponents of playing politics with it, there is no denying the fact that the administration has failed big time by not being able to provide enough testing kits. 

“From Congress to state capitals across the country, politicians of both main parties have shown rare bipartisan agreement that the pace of federal testing is woefully inadequate,” the Guardian reported, adding: “Testing could contain the outbreak and mitigate its most devastating impacts.”

According to reports, the reason for the Trump administration’s failure to supply enough testing kit is that it knew more testing would mean more cases of coronavirus and Trump never wanted that to happen fearing it would jeopardize his re-election prospects.

Dan Diamond, a reporter from Politico said in an interview with the National Public Radio that “infighting in the Department of Health and Human Services and the need to flatter Trump impeded the response to the coronavirus.”

President Donald Trump speaks at the beginning of a new conference with members of the coronavirus task force, including Vice President Mike Pence in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House February 26, 2020 in Washington, DC  (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

“Some of the decisions behind the scenes haven’t always reflected the best judgment of career professionals,” Diamond added. 

“In the case of Alex Azar (the Secretary of Health and Human Services), he did go to the President in January. He did push past resistance from the President’s political aides to warn Trump that the new coronavirus could be a major problem.”

“But at the same time, Secretary Azar has not always given the President the worst-case scenario of what could happen. My understanding is he [President Trump] did not push to do aggressive additional testing in recent weeks, and that’s partly because more testing might have led to more cases being discovered of coronavirus outbreak, and the President had made clear – the lower the numbers on coronavirus, the better for the President, the better for his potential re-election this fall,” the reporter said in disturbing revelations. 

A report in PoliticusUSA slammed Trump saying he deliberately stood as an obstacle to aggressive testing which could have curbed the outbreak and saved lives. It held the President directly responsible if the situation turned as alarming as in Italy where the death toll is rising by leaps and bounds.