In American politics, October surprise is “a revelation disclosed in the month prior to an election, often orchestrated in the hopes of dramatically influencing the result”.
Because the date for the Presidential elections is the first Tuesday in November, events that take place in October have greater potential to influence the decisions of prospective voters. October “last-minute news” a few weeks before and election can either completely change the entire course of an election or strongly reinforce the inevitable.
Four years ago, the October surprise that impacted the Presidential election was that former FBI Director James Comey had reopened the investigation of Hilliary Clinton’s email a mere 3 weeks before the election and many say that event cost her the elections, even though nothing was found.
BREAKING NEWS AFTER MIDNIGHT
In the early morning hours of Friday October 2, the major news outlets started reporting that President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump have tested positive for the coronavirus. In a tweet, just before 1 a.m., Trump made the announcement:
“Tonight, @FLOTUS and I tested positive for COVID-19. We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately. … We will get through this TOGETHER!”
Trump said he and first lady were quarantining in the White House for the full 14 days. The White House physician said the president is expected to continue carrying out his duties “without disruption” while recovering in the White House.
Trump’s announcement came hours after he confirmed that Hope Hicks, one of Trumps trusted and longest-serving aides, had been diagnosed with the virus. Hicks began feeling mild symptoms during the plane ride on Air Force One going home with Trump from a rally in Minnesota.
It is a stunning announcement that will surely will upend the Presidential election into even further uncertainty just a month before the presidential election. Trump is 74 years old, is severely overweight putting him at higher risk of serious complications from the virus that has infected more than 7 million people nationwide.
Trump who has been trying desperately to convince the American public that the worst of the pandemic is behind them. Ever since the early outbreak of the pandemic, Trump has consistently downplayed the threat of a virus. He disclosed last month to veteran news reporter Bob Woodward of Watergate fame, that he was aware of the seriousness of the virus back in February, but he intentionally downplayed it to avoid “panicking” the American public. The pandemic has now killed more than 205,000 Americans, yet Trump continued to take try and discredit his own experts and has insisted a that a vaccine will found and even distributed before the end of the year.
Trump has always played down concerns about being personally vulnerable. Trump has refused to abide by basic public health guidelines, including those issued by his own administration, such as wearing masks in public and practicing social distancing believing it was a sign of weakness. Instead, he continued to hold campaign rallies that draw thousands of supporters who also refused to wear masks and take precautions.
Trump’s handling of the pandemic was a major point of contention during the debate a few days before against Democrat Joe Biden who spent much of the summer off the campaign trail because of the virus. Trump mocked Biden at their debate saying:
“I don’t wear masks like him. Every time you see him, he’s got a mask. He could be speaking 200 feet away from me, and he shows up with the biggest mask I’ve ever seen.”
MILD SYMTOMS THUS FAR
On October 2, a White House official said Trump is experiencing “mild symptoms.” According to news reports, the next 5 to 10 days will be critical for Trump following his positive test for Covid-19. Doctors are warning the illness can suddenly worsen after several days of relatively mild symptoms. That’s particularly true for patients with two of the biggest risk factors for serious and even life-threatening complications of the disease: obesity and older age. Trump, 74, with a body mass index of 30.5, qualifying him as obese, fits both criteria.
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
It has always been not if, but when, Trump would catch the virus given his negligence and carelessness dealing with the virus. The diagnosis marks a major and potentially complete devastation to Trump’s reelection bid. The biggest question that remains is just how sick will Trump be. It was reported that former Vice President Joe Biden and his Dr. Jill Biden underwent PCR testing for COVID-19 and COVID-19 was not detected. Vice President Michael Pence has also tested negative for the virus.
One thing is for sure, the remaining two Presidential debates will be cancelled and the election will go forward. Unless of course the Republicans persist in filling the Supreme Court vacancy of Ruth Bader Ginsburg in order for the Supreme Court to suspend the election to allow Trump to recover, remain president or allow Vice President Mike Pence to assume power.
Now that would be another October Surprise.