Coronavirus Latest: Trump's Fight With Governors Is One He Can't Win
President Trump's guidelines for "reopening" the country put the onus on governors across the nation. After the president falsely claimed he had "total" authority over the states regarding when to reopen, he is now set up, politically, to take the credit if all goes well and to blame the governors if something goes wrong.
He has vacillated between praising and criticizing governors. At times he's downplayed their sometimes-pointed appeals for more resources, dismissing Democrats, in particular, as having a political agenda and not being "appreciative." Trump, though, has praised allies, including governors who have gotten criticism from health experts for their handling of the pandemic, like Florida's Ron DeSantis.
Trump has a feisty, cat-and-mouse-like relationship with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The Democrat Cuomo has gotten a lot of attention during this crisis, holding daily news conferences where sometimes he disagrees with the president. For example, after Trump said he had "total" authority to tell the states what to do, Cuomo said America never signed up to have a "king."
On Friday, Trump criticized Cuomo on Twitter, saying he "should spend more time 'doing' and less time 'complaining.' " Cuomo responded in real time: "If he is sitting home watching TV, maybe he should get up and go to work."
On Sunday, the script flipped, with Trump devoting part of his task force briefing to airing a video clip of Cuomo praising the federal government response.
The episodes highlight a real disadvantage Trump has not just with Cuomo, but with many of the other governors across the country: They're far more popular than he is.
Trump has seen a rally-around-the-flag bump that's smaller than other presidents have in times of national crisis. His average approval rating, according to RealClearPolitics, is just 46%, with 51% disapproving.
Compare that to Cuomo. The latest Siena College Research pollshows 87% of New Yorkers approve of the job he's doing in handling the coronavirus, despite the large number of cases New York has had. Just 41% of New Yorkers approve of Trump's handling of the pandemic.
Cuomo has made his mark with sober, blunt and personal press conferences. He doesn't sugarcoat what's coming, and he doesn't make the kind of confidently optimistic predictions Trump has become known for.
The numbers tell which strategy is working better politically.
It's a similar story in the rest of the country, FiveThirtyEight found. Governors have a 69% approval for their handling of the coronavirus, while Trump is at 44%, according to an average of the national polls FiveThirtyEight uses.
What's more, the governors who have shown the most improvement in their approval ratings from before the pandemic to after are many of the Democratic governors he's picked fights with and Republicans who have been most aggressive with stay-at-home orders. DeSantis, who was slow to close down, has seen a decline:
SOURCE: FiveThirtyEight, RealClearPolitics average of the polls. For governors, FiveThirtyEight used fourth-quarter ratings from Morning Consult as a baseline. For Trump, we used Jan. 1 as his baseline.
Weekend highlights in brief:
Here are highlights from the news from the weekend, including the White House coronavirus task force's briefings and the Sunday shows:
Quote of the weekend:
"In this case, I actually like the boyfriend. But even if you don't like the boyfriend, the answer can only be, 'I like the boyfriend.' "
— New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on his 25-year-old daughter Mariah's boyfriend, who is now quarantined with them.
Other headlines from NPR:
- Mnuchin 'Hopeful' On Imminent Deal For New Coronavirus Relief Funding: Congress and the White House may be nearing a deal to replenish coronavirus stimulus funds. There could be a vote in the Senate Monday and a House vote Tuesday.
- Shortage Of Dialysis Equipment Leads To Difficult Decisions In New York ICUs: Many hospital workers on the front lines in the metro area have been sounding the alarm that a different piece of lifesaving equipment is in short supply and high demand: dialysis machines.
- Star-Studded 'One World' Concert To Rally Support For Health Care Workers: Aside from the entertainers and the novelty of all three major broadcast networks airing the same program at the same time, politically, notice who participated in this event to support the World Health Organization — and who didn't. Former first ladies Laura Bush and Michelle Obama were there; no one from the Trump White House participated.
Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.