Analysis by Stephen Collinson, CNN
Updated 7:01 AM ET, Tue June 23, 2020
(CNN)President Donald Trump is now paying a direct, personal price for his pandemic denial — the possible shelving of the thing he cares about most, the raucous rallies that defined his political rise and are crucial to his reelection hopes.
Trump spent the weekend seething about the disappointing crowd for his comeback event in Oklahoma on Saturday night, according to CNN reporting. His hopes of a full-time return to the campaign trail then took another blow with news that eight staffers and two Secret Service agents at the event are now positive for the coronavirus.
The test results cast Trump’s risky decision to go ahead with an indoor rally that doctors fear turned into a super-spreader infectious event in an even worse light. They also show how the virus — now marching through southern and western states despite Trump’s insistence that the US has already “prevailed” in the fight — is having a disastrous impact on the “Great American Comeback” narrative at the heart of his reelection bid.
Far from easing the political damage caused by the virus, Trump keeps exacerbating it. On Monday, he gave new life to a controversy caused by his remark on Saturday that he told his staff to slow testing for the virus to avoid discovering new cases, which in itself reflected his negligence in responding to a pandemic that has now killed more than 120,000 Americans.