Today, President Trump is holding his first major event outside D.C. How to make sense of his visit to the Honeywell mask plant in Arizona in the context of a coronavirus pandemic and his re-election campaign?
Trump is paying a visit to the Honeywell mask plant in Arizona today in what will make his first major public event outside D.C. since the start of the pandemic. It is no secret that Trump considers himself a wartime president defending the nation against an invisible enemy, coronavirus. Since the early days of the coronavirus crisis, Trump’s political language spoke to that fact.
“We’re at war fighting an invisible enemy,” he said repeatedly.
Today’s tour of the Honeywell mask plant in Arizona reflects the type of events wartime presidents normally do and President Trump’s choice of this particular mask plant is part of a larger political strategy.
There are two main aims Trump hopes to achieve with the Honeywell face mask plant visit: 1) restore the morale of the nation in the economy and 2) use events like that for his reelection campaign and position himself against Joe Biden.
The Honeywell mask plant visit serves as a platform for President Trump to send a threefold message to the nation: economic, public health, and a political one.
The political campaign aspect of Honeywell’s mask plan visit helps the positioning against Joe Biden. This visit aims to say, ‘I am in charge, I am the president, I am actually in charge of something. Biden can’t do this as he is not a president’.
Touring a mask plant helps Trump more than a political rally as the MAGA/KAG rally is mainly for supporters. The media tunes in, those who want to ridicule him tune in, but during an event like this one, during a pandemic, people tune in for information. That plays to Trump’s reelection advantage as he is front and center talking directly to the nation about the issues outside a typical campaign messaging.
Positioning a president on the front line of the pandemic, placing him at the center of the Honeywell mask plant, showcasing the plant responsible for producing N-95 face masks for those on the frontline of the fight against coronavirus aims to send two messages. 1) we have enough masks, we are capable of dealing with pandemic and 2) as a result of this, there will be more jobs. Trump’s message about more jobs falls well into the economic message and is his strongest re-election ticket.
Public Health message
The majority of Americans still see pandemic as a legitimate threat and such view of the nation suggests that more voters might vote against Trump if the financial and health consequences of the pandemic persist. Today’s visit aims to reassure those who may decide not to vote for him.
In that sense, touring the Honeywell plant in charge of mask production ticks-off all the boxes for Trump: political, economic, and public health one.