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Press: Election is now referendum on how Trump handled COVID-19

Press: Election is now referendum on how Trump handled COVID-19
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It’s an image Americans haven’t experienced for over 40 years: seeing the president of the United States airlifted to a hospital for treatment for a serious illness. Forget politics. This is a moment of national anxiety. It puts all Americans on edge. It concerns the health and safety, not just of the president, but of the entire nation. It impacts the economy. It raises serious questions about national security.

And here’s the worst part: In the case of Donald TrumpDonald TrumpTrump State Department appointee arrested in connection with Capitol riot Intelligence community investigating links between lawmakers, Capitol rioters Michelle Obama slams 'partisan actions' to 'curtail access to ballot box' MORE, it was entirely self-inflicted. We could have been spared this national crisis. It could all have been avoided — if only Trump had listened to health officials and taken the necessary precautions. Instead, he recklessly and irresponsibly ignored their warnings. And now all of us are paying the price.

Of course, as Americans, Republican and Democrat, we wish the president a speedy recovery. But, still, it must be said. The coronavirus didn’t just happen to strike Donald Trump. He almost invited him to strike him. For months, he refused to take the virus seriously, dismissed its threat, insisted it would soon go away, refused advice of health experts to wear a mask and social distance, and, ignoring CDC guidelines, scheduled dangerous, super-predator crowd events on the campaign trail and at the White House — most recently, his Rose Garden gathering to announce the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.

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In so doing, Trump not only exposed himself to the disease, he put countless others in jeopardy. Including Herman CainHerman Cain'Trumpification' of the GOP will persist 'SNL' host Dave Chappelle urges Biden voters to be 'humble' winners 18 Trump rallies have led to 30,000 COVID-19 cases: Stanford University study MORE, who died of COVID-19 after attending Trump’s campaign rally in Tulsa on June 20. And, more recently, first lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by ExxonMobil - FBI director testifies on Jan. 6 Capitol attack Overnight Health Care: Senate to vote on .9 trillion relief bill this week | J&J vaccine rollout begins | CDC warns against lifting restrictions Trump has been vaccinated for coronavirus MORE, White House aides Hope HicksHope HicksUPDATED: McEnany, Fox News talks on pause Trump selects Hicks, Bondi, Grenell and other allies for positions Trump lawyer Jenna Ellis tests positive for coronavirus MORE, Kellyanne ConwayKellyanne Elizabeth ConwayGeorge Conway calls for thorough Lincoln Project probe: 'The lying has to stop' Claudia Conway advances on 'American Idol,' parents Kellyanne, George appear The swift death of the media darlings known as the Lincoln Project MORE and Nick Luna, three White House reporters, press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Sens. Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisMcConnell backs Garland for attorney general GOP senators demand probe into Cuomo's handling of nursing home deaths CNN anchor confronts GOP chairman over senator's vote to convict Trump MORE (R-N.C.) and Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeGarland's AG nomination delayed by GOP roadblocks Biden reignites war powers fight with Syria strike Bipartisan group of senators introduces bill to rein in Biden's war powers MORE (R-Utah), campaign manager Bill Stepien, RNC Chair Ronna McDanielRonna Romney McDanielThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Lawmakers face Capitol threat as senators line up votes for relief bill House GOP campaign chief: Not helpful for Trump to meddle in primaries RNC chair on censures of pro-impeachment Republicans: 'Overwhelmingly, our party agrees with each other' MORE and Notre Dame President Father John Jenkins — all of whom tested positive.

Not only that, according to the Wall Street Journal, last Thursday morning, even after Trump learned that Hicks had tested positive for COVID, Trump insisted on proceeding to his golf course in Bedminster, N.J., for a fundraiser and campaign rally with supporters: eating lunch with donors, taking photographs, traveling with White House staff, Secret Service agents and military personnel — exposing another 206 people, not counting staff and security, to the disease.

Even while at Walter Reed, Trump continued to mock the disease, sending the hapless White House physician out to lie about his condition and putting brave Secret Service agents at risk by forcing them to drive him outside the gates so he could wave to supporters.

In the end, no matter how quickly he recovers, it will be Trump himself who’s hurt most by his diagnosis. For months, while downplaying the threat of coronavirus, he’s desperately tried to change the subject: to “law and order,” Hunter Biden, mail-in ballots, anything but COVID-19.

No such luck. By his own reckless disregard for safety, Trump’s made sure the coronavirus will be at the top of the news every day from now through Nov. 3. How is Donald Trump doing? What are his symptoms? Who else in the White House has been infected? And how many more Americans have died?

There’s no escaping it now. This election is only about one issue. It’s a referendum on how Donald Trump handled the worst public health crisis in our lifetime. Did he rise to the occasion? Did he take it seriously? Did he pull Americans together? Did he tell the American people the truth? Did he set the right example? The indisputable answer is a resounding NO.

Press is host of “The Bill Press Pod.” He is author of “From the Left: A Life in the Crossfire.”