Conway says Trump should resume giving regular coronavirus briefings

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway on Friday advocated for President Trump to resume giving regular coronavirus briefings as approval of his handling of the pandemic sinks in public polls.

“I just think the people want to hear from the president of the United States,” she told reporters. “Doesn’t have to be daily. Doesn’t have to be for two hours. But in my view it has to be.”

Conway, one of the president’s longest-tenured advisers, said she believes it would be beneficial for Trump to be the face of the government response again “because the pandemic continues and he’s done a solid job leading our country through it.”  

She noted that Trump’s approval ratings on the pandemic were higher when he joined members of the White House coronavirus task force for near-daily briefings in March. The president has not taken part in such a briefing since late April, and only occasionally speaks about the pandemic by boasting of his response and highlighting vaccine development.

“It’s causation not coincidence that the president’s handling of the coronavirus in public opinion when he himself was addressing — again, don’t need anybody up there for two hours, but there he was with his doctors, and everybody was answering questions and presenting information when the news was very dire and very devastating everyday,” Conway told reporters.

An ABC News/Washington Post poll released Friday showed 60 percent of those surveyed disapprove of Trump’s handling of the pandemic, up from 53 percent in May. The survey found 38 percent of respondents approve of the president’s coronavirus response.

A Quinnipiac University poll released this week found 62 percent of voters disapproved of Trump’s handling of the pandemic, compared to 35 percent who approved. The same poll found in early April that 46 percent of respondents approved of Trump’s virus response.

The president appeared at press briefings on the coronavirus almost daily throughout March and April, where he joined public health officials to speak about the administration’s efforts to produce ventilators and other supplies and combat the spread of the virus.

The briefings would often get off topic as Trump would field questions from reporters, and he would frequently lash out at governors and complain that he was not getting proper credit for his administration’s response.

The appearances abruptly ended in late April days after Trump sparked widespread backlash by suggesting scientists study whether the injection of light or disinfectants into the body could be used as a cure for the virus.

Vice President Pence and other task force members have started giving briefings on close to a weekly basis this month as several states face significant surges in case numbers.

Trump has continued to downplay the severity of those spikes, even as the country on Thursday confirmed more than 75,000 new cases. He has attributed the increases to expanded testing capacity, despite experts saying that the rise in infections is because the virus is spreading across the country.

And Trump as recently as last month again claimed the virus would “just disappear.”

Tags Coronavirus coronavirus briefings Donald Trump Kellyanne Conway Mike Pence

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