President’s campaign-trail absence is especially significant because rallies he re-started after Labor Day are a central part of his campaign operation
By John McCormick and Michael C. Bender
President Trump’s positive coronavirus test brought a pandemic that has claimed the lives of more than 208,000 Americans even closer to the center of the presidential campaign debate as the nation’s leader quarantines and both sides contemplate their next moves.
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“The Trump campaign is uniquely dependent on their candidate to drive its message,” said GOP consultant Alex Conant, who led communications for Sen. Marco Rubio’s 2016 presidential campaign and served as a spokesman in the second Bush White House. “Without him on the campaign trail, it creates a big vacuum.”
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Mr. Conant said Democrats, in seeking to campaign on the president’s handling of the pandemic, must be careful not to look like they want to see the president’s condition deteriorate.
“Biden needs to show concern for the president’s health, but he can’t suspend his campaign either,” he said. “He didn’t do anything wrong and shouldn’t act like he did. This is a mistake some candidates make after tragedy occurs to the opposition.”
Mr. Conant said it is too soon to predict whether there will be any movement in polling because of the president’s illness.
“Nothing remotely close to this has ever happened in a presidential campaign,” Mr. Conant said. “It’s impossible to predict how voters react to it.”