“Make no mistake about it, what you see today is that America is going back to work and that the American people are finding a way every day to put this coronavirus further back in the past,” he said. he told CNBC the same day the country reported 55,000 new cases of the virus, a daily record.
For public health experts, optimism is not grounded in reality.
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“It’s almost laughable because it doesn’t pass any credibility test when we see peaks in cases, peaks in hospitalizations,” said Larry Gostin, a public health specialist at Georgetown University Law School. “The American people are not stupid. They can see the spin when there is spin. ”
The most important thing Pence can do, said Gostin, “is to be honest with the American public. … You have to tell them the truth and then you have to tell them what America is going to do to turn the tide. ”
It is not the first time that Pence has been forced to put his credibility on the line when he is Trump’s most loyal soldier. It may be the most important.
While Trump has tried to distance himself from what he calls “the plague” as he continues his re-election, Pence has become the public face of this phase of the epidemic, frequently visiting virus hotspots , coordinating with the governors and directing the administration. coronavirus working group.
The role, according to his relatives, is a natural fit for Pence, a former governor of Indiana who considers it his duty to defend the president and reopen the country as safely as possible. But the allies are well aware that Pence’s political future will depend on whether or not a second Trump term is won.
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If Trump loses and Pence runs for president in 2024, he will likely face many candidates from a new generation of politicians. This could include Nikki Haley, former ambassador to the United Nations and governor of South Carolina, and Senator Tom Cotton, R-Ark.
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Robert Blendon, professor of health policy and political analysis at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, said Pence faces a “real dilemma” because Trump’s re-election is so dependent on a well-founded economic rebound on the reopening of states during the pandemic.
From a public health perspective, “we are actually losing again. It gets worse. We are going to have to reduce the economy, ”he said.
After spending time on the road highlighting the reopening efforts, Pence traveled to Arizona and Florida last week, where cases are increasing. He tried to argue that the country is in a much better position now than it was at the start of the epidemic when testing capacity was dismal and doctors and nurses were desperately looking for basic protective equipment.
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“The American people deserve to know that we are in a much better position today, thanks to the whole-of-government approach, the whole-of-government approach that President Trump launched at the very beginning of the coronavirus pandemic,” said Pence. said Tuesday at a task force briefing held not at the White House but at the headquarters of the US Public Health Service in Rockville, Maryland.
White House officials and their allies point out that there are positive signs beyond the supply stream, with deaths still falling and several therapies on the market. The sticking point, they point out, was to smooth the infection curve to avoid overwhelming hospitals, not to eliminate cases.
To push this message further, Pence should resume the field trip soon. Campaign officials met by telephone on Thursday to map media markets where they believe it could be beneficial.
While Trump promotes large-scale gatherings, Pence will continue to focus on more intimate environments, inducing restaurant visits, bus tours and smaller speaking engagements, especially in front of groups such as white evangelicals and families from the suburbs who may be more receptive to a political hyper-message.
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Pence will focus on swing states by focusing on local issues and trying to show voters how the administration has affected their lives for the good. He should spend a lot of time in states such as Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan, as well as Arizona and North Carolina, to talk about the return of manufacturing jobs. This is a promise that Trump made in 2016 that has not been kept.
At the same time, however, the Trump campaign recently disbanded a team of dedicated Pence staff, including his director of communications, his spokesperson, and the vice president of operations. Strategy and planning are now managed by Marty Obst, a longtime advisor to Pence who was his campaign manager in 2016, and Marc Short, his chief of staff.
While some have described the move as a natural transition since the vice president already has full staff in the White House, others have said he suggests a diminished role in a campaign that considers Pence more as a substitute than a director.
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Trump’s election campaign spokesman Ali Pardo rejected the suggestion, saying that Pence “played a vital role in promoting and implementing the Trump President’s” US President “agenda through the country. ”
Pence made it clear that he thought it was Trump’s campaign and that he had every right to run it as he pleased.
Barry Bennett, a longtime Republican strategist who worked for Trump in 2016, praised Pence’s performance.
“He has a very difficult job. But so far, I think he has managed to do it with compassion and integrity, ”he said. “He is probably the only one to come out of the pandemic experience with positive results.”
© 2020 The Canadian Press