Trump diagnosis bombshell unlikely to shift votes, says OSU professor


COLUMBUS (WCMH) – From both sides of the aisle Friday, lawmakers have been sending well wishes to President Donald Trump and the first lady, wishing them a speedy recovery following both testing positive for COVID-19.

The diagnosis hit Trump, First Lady Melania Trump, and Trump advisor Hope Hicks, and now it remains unclear how many staffers were in close contact with those who tested positive.

However, some, like Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, are saying it’s a cautionary tale that anyone can contract the virus, even the rich and powerful.

Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown said he was troubled that no one in the Trump camp was wearing masks in Cleveland Tuesday during the first presidential debate.

Ohio State University political scientist Paul Beck is calling the president’s diagnosis a bombshell.

“It creates a problem for the Trump campaign because they have been so militant in their opposition to mask wearing and talking about the severity of the coronavirus and all of a sudden, it hit home,” Beck said. “And as the day passes, we are hearing about more and more people who are affected who had come in close proximity with the president and we don’t know how that is going to play out, nor do we know how it is going to play out for the president.”

It’s all speculative, but Beck said if the president’s mild symptoms were to get worse, and he were to become incapacitated, protocol is for the cabinet to convene and declare the president “under disability” and transfer power, even temporarily, to Vice President Mike Pence.

There was a temporary transfer of power to Vice President George H.W. Bush when President Ronald Reagan was shot in an assignation attempt in 1981.

 Never before in history has a president been diagnosed with a serious illness one month out from an election.

Republican Congressman Jim Jordan said Friday he fully expects Trump to make phone calls and stay engaged in close congressional races even while he is battling the virus.

As for Democrats, even those questioning the Trump administration’s handling of the coronavirus are wishing the president a speedy recovery. However, Beck said they should be careful about how they address the diagnosis.

“Democrats should stay as far away from it as they can, and let it play out in the White House,” he said about the danger of Democrats appearing to be gloating about Trump’s diagnosis.

Beck called the diagnosis an October surprise that is sure to shift the focus of the campaigns, but will it shift votes?

“We are talking about a small slice of people who right now seem to be undecided,” he said. “The Trump base, I think, is not going to move as a result of this. They haven’t moved as a result of any other things and so the question is what about the undecideds? How will they react to this?”

Coronavirus in Ohio resources:

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