Priorities USA is a liberal Super PAC — the biggest PAC supporting the Democratic party — that created an ad with the purpose of hurting President Trump’s reelection campaign. The ad was titled “Exponential Threat,” juxtaposing the exponential growth curve of the number of COVID-19 cases in the United States over two months’ time and Trump’s rhetoric during the same time period.
The ad highlighted the most telling of phrases publicly uttered from Trump’s mouth that made it abundantly clear that he was not taking proper measures in responding to the crisis. Among these phrases were “we have it totally under control,” “one day, it’s like a miracle, it will disappear,” “we really think we have done a great job of keeping it down to a minimum” and closing with, “no, I don’t take responsibility at all.”
All of which are pretty damning for Trump’s credibility on his claims that he is handling the crisis well — or at all.
In response to this ad, the Donald Trump for President Campaign “threatened legal action against local TV stations in Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin if [Priorities USA] didn’t pull the commercial.”
Why do those states sound familiar? Here’s a hint — they’re all battleground states.
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Weeks after this warning, the campaign sued local TV stations in these states for airing the commercial. But the main reason that the Trump 2020 reelection campaign is suing the local stations is because of one line — “the coronavirus … this is their new hoax.”
The commercial implies that Trump called the coronavirus itself the new hoax, though it was taken out of context as many independent fact-checking sources have stated. What Trump was really saying was that Democrats’ outrage against the administration for not doing more to prevent the spread of the virus was a hoax.
But really, what is the difference and does it really matter?
This quote from Trump came from a February 28 campaign rally in North Charleston, South Carolina. The hoax to which he was referring, in his opinion, belonged to a category of actions by the Democrats that were empty accusations to attack him politically. Other members of this category include the Russia 2016 interference investigations led by Robert Mueller — which was just backed by a three-year Republican-led Senate review of intelligence and his own constitutional impeachment— which went undisputed that wrongdoing was committed, but merely not, you know, bad enough to ensue removal, because violating constitutional authority is fine apparently.
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Yeah, I get it. There has been a lot of calls for removal. But when the President takes every opportunity to put his own political self-interest ahead of the country’s wellbeing — which is actually the president’s job, by the way — there is often a reason for outrage at his actions.
Every one of these “hoaxes” pokes at his inability to put aside his self-interest. During the Mueller report scandal, it was his knowledge of Russian interference in the 2016 election that he welcomed because the Russians wanted him in office. For impeachment, it was Trump withholding congressionally allocated funds to blackmail the President of Ukraine to publicly investigate Hunter Biden, so as to hurt Joe Biden’s bid for the presidency against Trump. And now, for the global pandemic, it was Trump ignoring White House intelligence and ignoring and downplaying the signs of the worsening condition of the global pandemic.
So, no. It does not matter what the ad defined as the “hoax,” because even if Trump called the pandemic a hoax and not Democrats’ political action, absolutely nothing would have been different.
The lawsuit is Trump’s way of trying to bring down an ad that correctly links our nation’s leader to the inadequate response to an unprecedented pandemic. Because it was unprecedented, many have argued that there was no better way to do it, because no one knew better.
While it may be true that the lack of precedence meant there was no prescribed action to take, that does not give the administration a pass for downplaying its seriousness so as to help the economy and Trump’s re-election campaign.
A recent article from the New York Times, written by epidemiologists — experts in disease spread and control — outlined that if social distancing guidelines were released two weeks earlier than they were — on March 2nd instead of March 16th — there would be an estimate of a 90% reduction in deaths due to coronavirus.
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Just as a gauge for what we should have — and evidence of what we could have — been doing at that time, linked here is an informative video outlining the difference in response between the U.S. and South Korea, who recorded the first case on the same day as the U.S. By March 17, they had tested 10 times as many people as the U.S. In other terms, South Korea tested .53% of its population and controlled its outbreak in the same about of time that the U.S. tested .008% of its population.
South Korea intervened early, tested citizens aggressively and traced places of likely outbreak, passing legislation and emergency measures to ensure national security over other concerns. All done without shutting down their economy.
Meanwhile, our President is telling people that this is an issue for the states to handle.
Beaches in Jacksonville, Florida opened up Saturday, April 18, days after the highest death toll in the U.S. since the beginning of the pandemic.
States have been going back and forth bidding for ventilators from private companies.
About 50,000 people are dead.
Right-wing enthusiasts are now protesting state shutdown measures nationwide.
About 1 million have tested positive, out of those who have actually gotten tested.
Wisconsin GOP legislators are suing Gov. Tony Evers on his stay at home order.
All of this is caused by Trump’s words and actions, and this will follow him in the general election.
Trump is suing Wisconsin TV stations for pushing the idea that he did not do nearly enough to prevent or control the pandemic outbreak in the U.S.
This madness is only highlighted by the fact that Wisconsin is the battleground state in the November election.
Voters are so unexcited about re-electing Trump in November that they filled in Daniel Kelly’s name on the ballot but did not even bother to fill in Trump’s name.
Suing Wisconsin TV stations isn’t going to save your re-election campaign in Wisconsin, @realDonaldTrump.
Kaitlin Kons ([email protected]) is a sophomore studying political science and public policy.