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Trump hints at return to daily coronavirus briefings

WASHINGTON — As coronavirus cases and deaths continue to mount in the U.S., President Donald Trump teased a return to daily coronavirus task force briefings that could resume Tuesday.

“Well, we had very successful briefings. I was doing them, and we had a lot of people watching — record numbers watching. In the history of cable television — television, there’s never been anything like it,” Trump told reporters invited into the Oval Office to hear White House negotiators’ remarks on a fourth tranche of coronavirus funding.

Trump teased that he expected to resume task force briefings at 2 p.m. Pacific, which he described as a good time slot.

The decision to resume daily coronavirus briefings, which ended April 27, follows a marked dip in Trump’s approval numbers, with the RealClearPolitics average showing that 42 percent of voters approve of Trump’s job performance, and 56 percent disapproving. Trump’s numbers for his handling of the coronavirus are worse — with 38.7 percent approving and 58.4 percent disapproving.

Trump noted that the briefings could be used to showcase advances in vaccine development and treatments. On Monday, The Lancet reported on positive results with a vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University in the United Kingdom.

Since April 27, the task force has conducted briefings while on the road or at nearby venues like the Department of Education, but those events lacked the regularity that prompted Americans to tune in daily to watch Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and a collection of health officials urge Americans to avoid discretionary trips, wash their hands regularly and stay home if they exhibited symptoms.

Intent on dominating the spotlight, Trump worked to gin up voter enthusiasm with a June 20 campaign rally in Tulsa that uncharacteristically did not fill the Bank of Oklahoma Center. Later the Trump campaign postponed a July 11 rally in a Portsmouth, New Hampshire, airport hangar, ostensibly because of concerns over a tropical storm.

According to a survey from the Sports and Leisure Research Group, Engagious and ROKK Solutions, Americans who are preparing to resume their pre-COVID lives are looking for situations where they have more control over their safety.

Both Republicans and Democrats will be looking for smaller campaign events, ROKK Solutions partner Ron Bonjean told the Review-Journal. “Trump could begin doing small airport hangar rallies where you could have a few hundred people listening to the president speak while he has the backdrop of the plane behind him to showcase strength.”

No public rallies are listed on the Trump campaign website.

Contact Debra J. Saunders at dsaunders@reviewjournal.com or 202-662-7391. Follow @DebraJSaunders on Twitter.

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