Trump campaign’s next steps unclear after White House return

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump’s return to the White House is poised to reshape the campaign’s final four weeks as aides debated Tuesday how to move past an extraordinary setback while grappling with how to send an infected president back on the road.



President Donald Trump removes his mask as he stands on the balcony outside of the Blue Room as returns to the White House Monday, Oct. 5, 2020, in Washington, after leaving Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, in Bethesda, Md. Trump announced he tested positive for COVID-19 on Oct. 2. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)


© Provided by Associated Press
President Donald Trump removes his mask as he stands on the balcony outside of the Blue Room as returns to the White House Monday, Oct. 5, 2020, in Washington, after leaving Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, in Bethesda, Md. Trump announced he tested positive for COVID-19 on Oct. 2. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

A race that had remained steady throughout the tumult of 2020 now threatens to slip away from the president after he spent 72 hours hospitalized with COVID-19, the very disease that has fundamentally altered the country he leads and the campaign he wanted to run. And as Democrat Joe Biden stood on one of the nation’s most hallowed grounds to call for national unity, the president, in his first full day back in the executive mansion, plunged Washington into further chaos by abruptly ending coronavirus relief talks.



Supporters of President Donald Trump line the road as the motorcade with Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden arrives at Gettysburg National Military Park in Gettysburg, Pa., Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)


© Provided by Associated Press
Supporters of President Donald Trump line the road as the motorcade with Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden arrives at Gettysburg National Military Park in Gettysburg, Pa., Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Trump had stage-managed his dramatic, if reckless, reentry to the White House — tearing off his mask before stepping back inside Monday — and was pushing aides to return to the campaign trail as soon as possible, including to next week’s second debate against Biden. But as the president remained contagious, his health under careful watch, a division emerged between aides over how to manage the fallout.



Members of the U.S. Secret Service stand guard as Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at Gettysburg National Military Park in Gettysburg, Pa., Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)


© Provided by Associated Press
Members of the U.S. Secret Service stand guard as Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at Gettysburg National Military Park in Gettysburg, Pa., Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Some believed the moment could act as a late reset, allowing the president to draw from his own experiences to at last show empathy for those affected by a pandemic that has killed more than 210,000 Americans, left millions unemployed and sent his poll numbers tumbling.

But others believed that abruptly changing course after seven months of projecting strength over the virus wouldn’t work and instead advocated for intensifying the message as a means to further fire up the president’s supporters to turn out.

Trump made clear want he wanted.

“I am looking forward to the debate on the evening of Thursday, October 15th in Miami. It will be great!” he tweeted Tuesday, after previously posting an erroneous comparison between the dangers posed by COVID-19 and the flu.



As U.S. Secret Service agents watch, Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at Gettysburg National Military Park in Gettysburg, Pa., Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)


© Provided by Associated Press
As U.S. Secret Service agents watch, Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at Gettysburg National Military Park in Gettysburg, Pa., Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

“Will be

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Trump’s COVID-19 status unclear, could return to White House Monday

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump began a fourth day at the military hospital on Monday where he is being treated for COVID-19, as his condition remained unclear and outside experts warned his case may be severe.

The president’s team is treating Trump, 74, with a steroid, dexmethasone, that is normally used only in the most severe cases.

Yet, his medical team told reporters on Sunday that Trump could return to the White House as early as Monday. Even if he does, he will need to continue treatment as the Republican president is still undergoing a five-day course of an intravenous antiviral drug, remdesivir. The normal quarantine period for anyone testing positive for the coronavirus is 14 days.

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows on Monday reiterated the hope that Trump would be released shortly from the hospital.

“He will meet with his doctors and nurses this morning to make further assessments of his progress,” Meadows told Fox News. “We are still optimistic that he will be able to return to the White House later today.”

Sequestered at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center outside Washington since Friday, Trump has released a series of videos in an effort to reassure the public that he is recovering from a disease caused by a novel coronavirus that has infected 7.4 million Americans and killed more than 209,000.

On Sunday, he also left his hospital room to ride in a White House motorcade that drove him past supporters gathered outside the hospital. Dressed in a suit jacket, shirt but no tie and a black mask, it marked Trump’s first in-person public appearance since Friday.

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Critics and medical experts blasted Trump for the move, which potentially exposed the staff in his car to infection.

On Monday, his Twitter account released a stream of more than a dozen messages including “LAW & ORDER. VOTE!” and “RELIGIOUS LIBERTY. VOTE!”

A Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Sunday showed Trump trailing Biden by 10 percentage points. About 65% of Americans said Trump would not have been infected had he taken the virus more seriously. Trump has consistently downplayed the risks of the pandemic since it first emerged this year, and he has repeatedly flouted social-distancing guidelines meant to curb its spread.

Trump is under fire for leaving the hospital on Sunday as well as for his statement that he met with soldiers and first responders at the hospital – moves that potentially exposed even more people to the virus.

“Every single person in the vehicle during that completely unnecessary presidential ‘drive-by’ just now has to be quarantined for 14 days,” James Phillips, who is also an assistant professor of emergency medicine at George Washington University’s medical school said here on Twitter. “They might get sick. They may die. For political theater.”

CNN quoted a White House official as saying that his wife, Melania, who also tested positive for COVID-19, is not considering leaving the White House.

“Melania

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The White House has been unclear on timeline leading up to Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis. Here’s more details on his travels in the past week.

President Donald Trump announced early Friday that he and first lady, Melania Trump, tested positive for COVID-19.

The world reacts after President Trump and first lady Melania test positive for COVID-19

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Since then, the White House has sent mixed signals about his condition and the timeline of events leading up to his diagnosis and transfer to the hospital.

White House physician and Navy Cmdr. Sean Conley said Sunday that President Donald Trump continues to improve in his battle against COVID-19 and could be discharged.

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“There are frequent ups and downs … particularly when a patient is being so closely watched 24 hours a day,” said Conley. “If he continues to look and feel as well as he does today our hope is that we can plan for a discharge as early as tomorrow to the White House, where he can continue his treatment course.”



Donald Trump in a suit standing in front of a crowd: President Donald Trump throws hats to supporters after speaking at a campaign rally at Duluth International Airport in Duluth, Minn. on Sept. 30, 2020.


© Alex Brandon, AP
President Donald Trump throws hats to supporters after speaking at a campaign rally at Duluth International Airport in Duluth, Minn. on Sept. 30, 2020.

Meanwhile, aides sought to portray an image of business as usual despite lingering uncertainty over the severity of his case.

After an update on Trump’s health at a news conference Saturday, an administration official – later identified by the Associated Press and the New York Times as chief of staff Mark Meadows – met with reporters and described the president’s condition earlier in the week as “very concerning.”

Events are still unclear, but some details were compiled by USA TODAY after examining reports by the White House pool of reporters, as well as Trump’s recent schedules.

Friday, Sept. 25 – week before diagnosis

11:11 a.m. EDT:  Trump attends Latinos for Trump roundtable 

First on the president’s schedule Friday was a Latinos for Trump roundtable in Doral, Florida. Trump arrived Thursday night after a rally in Jacksonville.

3:08 p.m. EDT: Trump speaks on Black Empowerment

Trump traveled to Atlanta, Georgia to speak at the Cobb Galleria Centre.  There, he spoke on Black empowerment and unveiled a new plan, dubbed the Black Economic Empowerment “Platinum Plan,” aimed at winning over Black voters ahead of the November election.



Brian P. Kemp wearing a suit and tie talking on a cell phone: President Donald Trump greets Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and his wife Marty as he arrives at Dobbins Air Reserve Base for a campaign event at the Cobb Galleria Centre, Sept. 25, 2020, in Atlanta.


© Evan Vucci, AP
President Donald Trump greets Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and his wife Marty as he arrives at Dobbins Air Reserve Base for a campaign event at the Cobb Galleria Centre, Sept. 25, 2020, in Atlanta.

4:26 p.m. EDT: Traveling back to Washington

6:29 p.m. EDT: Trump hosts fundraiser in Washington

Trump attended a fundraiser event at his hotel in Washington, D.C. Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, who was at the function, has since reported her coronavirus-positive status.  

8:48 p.m. EDT: Trump hosts rally in Newport News, Virginia

Around 4,000 people gathered at the Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport Friday night for Trump’s “Make America Great Again” rally.



Donald Trump et al. around each other: NEWPORT NEWS, VA - SEPTEMBER 25: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally at Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport on September 25, 2020 in Newport News, Virginia. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)


© Drew Angerer, Getty Images
NEWPORT NEWS, VA – SEPTEMBER 25: U.S.

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Trump White House, Congress facing unclear coronavirus implications

President Trump, several top White House aides and Republican lawmakers have tested positive for the coronavirus, — likely restructuring the final weeks of the presidential campaign, the race to confirm Trump’s Supreme Court pick and even the day-to-day workings of the federal government.

In the days before he tested positive for the virus, President Trump kept a busy schedule that included campaign stops, fundraisers, White House events and the first presidential debate against Democratic nominee Joe Biden.

Then early Friday came news that Trump and first lady Melania Trump had tested positive for the virus that has killed more than 208,000 Americans. Before the day was over, Trump was flying to Walter Reed Medical Center in Maryland to be treated for mild symptoms of the virus.

“Going well, I think!” the president tweeted from the hospital late Friday, exhibiting his trademark sense of humor. “Thank you to all. LOVE!!!”

But the president was expected to be off the campaign trail until he recovers, leaving the stumping to Vice President Mike Pence and other surrogates.

Biden was also thrown by the president’s diagnosis, pulling attack ads against Trump and striking a more unifying tone after testing negative for the virus.

Trump plans to continue his day-to-day duties from the presidential suite at Walter Reed while he convalesces for the next few days, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said.

BRETT BAIER: COVID-19 HAS ‘CHANGED THE DYNAMIC’OF PRESIDENTIAL RACE, SUPREME COURT BATTLE

After Trump entered the hospital, news of more positive diagnoses of people close to the president emerged. Those facing troubling news included Kellyanne Conway, until recently the president’s White House counselor, and Bill Stepien, manager of the Trump 2020 Campaign.

Deputy campaign manager Justin Clark will oversee the Trump 2020 headquarters in Arlington, Va., while Stepien works remotely, Fox News has confirmed.

Trump’s diagnosis also called into question the remaining two presidential debates, set for Oct. 15 in Miami and Oct. 22 in Nashville, Tenn. Whether Trump will still be in quarantine on those dates is uncertain.

Politicians and pundits have floated whether the debates may be canceled or possibly done virtually. Fox News’ Brett Baier said it’s even possible the president could be well enough to travel in-person to the Miami debate if he recovers by then.

As of Friday, the vice presidential debate was scheduled to go forward as planned next Wednesday with Pence and vice-presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris, who have both tested negative.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Friday evening it would be “irresponsible and dangerous” to move forward with a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing for Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett on Oct. 12 after two Republican senators on the panel – Thom Tillis of North Carolina and Mike Lee of Utah, confirmed they have tested positive for the virus.

However, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he intends to go forward with Barrett’s hearing as planned and senators will be allowed to join virtually if necessary.

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