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Donald Trump compares himself to Churchill and FDR in COVID response

President Donald Trump compared his downplaying of the coronavirus to the actions of the great leaders of World War II, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Winston Churchill, to calm their nations in a new defense of not telling the truth about the pandemic.

At a campaign rally in Michigan Thursday night, Trump defended himself after coming under fire when revelations in Bob Woodward’s upcoming book ‘Rage’ showed he privately acknowledged the dangers of COVID while publicly telling Americans the situation was under control.

Trump argued he was trying not to cause panic – a theme he kept up Thursday night, this time comparing himself to Roosevelt and Churchill, who became icons for their leadership in the United States and the United Kingdom during the war with Nazi Germany. 

But his comparisons were flawed both in the historical sense and in his presentation of them – Roosevelt and Churchill famously leveled with the public about the challenges their countries faced during Depress and war while Trump said everything would be fine during the growing threat of the pandemic, which has killed almost 200,000 Americans.

‘As the British government advised the British people in the face of World War II, ‘Keep calm and carry on.’ That’s what I did,’ Trump told the crowd in Freeland, Michigan, airport – a claim which was itself untrue; the phrase was never deployed by Churchill and only a handful of posters with the logo were displayed in wartime.

President Donald Trump compared his response to the coronavirus to the actions of the great leaders of World War II: Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Winston Churchill

Trump has long sought to compare himself to Winston Churchill, the prime minister who led the United Kingdom during World War II

Trump has long sought to compare himself to Winston Churchill, the prime minister who led the United Kingdom during World War II

President Trump also quoted FDR's famous line: the only thing we have to fear is fear itself

President Trump also quoted FDR’s famous line: the only thing we have to fear is fear itself

IN THEIR OWN WORDS… 

WHAT WINSTON CHURCHILL TOLD THE BRITISH PEOPLE

We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many long months of struggle and of suffering. You ask, what is our policy? I will say: It is to wage war, by sea, land, and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us; to wage war against a monstrous tyranny never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalog of human crime. That is our policy. You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: It is victory, victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be.’ 

May 13, 1940

WHAT FRANKLIN DELANO ROOSEVELT TOLD THE AMERICAN PEOPLE

 ‘Let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory…. Values have shrunken to fantastic levels; taxes have risen; our ability to pay has fallen; government of all kinds is faced by serious curtailment of income; the means of exchange are frozen in the currents of trade; the withered leaves of industrial enterprise lie on every side; farmers find no markets for their produce; the savings of many years in thousands of families are gone. More important, a host of unemployed citizens face the grim problem of existence, and an equally great number toil with little return. Only a foolish optimist can deny the dark realities of the moment.’ 

Inaugural address, March 4, 1933 

WHAT TRUMP TOLD THE AMERICAN PEOPLE 

‘It’s going to be fine’

February 10

‘We have very few people with it. They’re all getting better.’

February 25 

‘It’s going to disappear. One day, it’s like a miracle, it will disappear.’

February 28 

‘We’ve stopped it.’ 

March 12

‘It will go away, and we’re going to have a great victory’

March 30 

‘Coronavirus numbers are looking MUCH better, going down almost everywhere. Big progress being made!’

May 11 2020

AND WHAT HE TOLD BOB WOODWARD

‘It’s also more deadly than even your strenuous flu. This is deadly stuff.’

February 7 

 I wanted to always play it down. I still like playing it down because I don’t want to create a panic

March 19 

‘Now it’s turning out it’s not just old people, Bob. But just today, and yesterday, some startling facts came out. It’s not just old, older. Young people, too, plenty of young people.’

March 19 

Most of the attendees were not wearing face masks and there was no social distancing. 

Trump then attacked Woodward, to whom he gave 18 on-the-record interviews for his book.

‘This wack job that wrote the book he said, well Trump knew a little bit. They wanted me to come out and scream ‘People are dying. We’re drying,” he said. ‘We did it just the right way. We have to be calm. We don’t want to be crazed lunatics.’ 

He then compared his actions to those of Churchill.  

‘When Hitler was bombing London, Churchill, great leader, would oftentimes go to a roof in London and speak. 

‘And he always spoke with calmness. He said, ‘We have to show calmness.’ No we did it the right way,’ he said. 

The president also repeated his argument that the United States has done the ‘best job, certainly of any major country’ on the pandemic. And invoked Roosevelt in his argument.

‘America will prevail over the China virus. As Franklin Delano Roosevelt said ‘the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.’ That’s it. We’re doing well,’ the president said.

But his argument contained flaws. 

While Churchill did take to the rooftops of London during World War II to watch bombing raids, he never gave a speech from there.

And Churchill’s speeches during the war were often grim with their realism of the challenges ahead.  

‘We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many long months of struggle and of suffering,’ he warned the British people in 1940, when the country stood alone, and faced the prospect of invasion from a rampant Nazi Germany.

Historian Jon Meacham, in response to Trump’s remarks, pointed to this Churchill quote, tweeting it out: ‘The British people can face any misfortune w/ fortitude & buoyancy as long as they are convinced that those in charge of their affairs are not deceiving them, or are not dwelling in a fool’s paradise.’ 

And FDR’s quote about ‘nothing to fear’ came from his inaugural address, when he went on to list the country’s woes: mass unemployment, those in jobs struggling to survive, a banking crisis and a government with no money.

‘Only a foolish optimist can deny the dark realities of the moment,’ he said, setting the tone for the fireside chats which went on to define his presidency.

In contrast Trump has defended himself for ‘downplaying’ the virus, not denying what he told Woodward but instead arguing he was trying not to cause a panic. 

‘The fact is, there has to be a calmness. You don’t want me jumping up and down screaming there’s going to be great death. Really causing serious problems for the country,’ he said at a White House press conference on Thursday before his rally.

Trump also denied he lied to the American people when asked about discrepancies in his conversations with Woodward and what he was saying in public at the time.

‘This is deadly stuff,’ the president told Woodward in February during one of their 18 interviews.

‘You just breathe the air and that’s how it’s passed,’ he said. ‘And so that’s a very tricky one. That’s a very delicate one. It’s also more deadly than even your strenuous flus.’

But while Trump admitted privately to the dangers of COVID, just three days later, he struck a far rosier tone in an interview with Fox Business: ‘I think the virus is going to be – it’s going to be fine.’

Trump said his public words were not a lie. 

‘There is no lie here. What we’re doing is leading,’ he said at his press conference.  

But the phrase Trump cited during his rally – ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ – while popular today was never used during World War II.

Trump's comparisons were flawed both in the historical sense and in his presentation of them - Roosevelt and Churchill famously leveled with the public about the challenges their countries faced during the war while Trump said everything would be fine during the growing threat of the COVID pandemic

Trump’s comparisons were flawed both in the historical sense and in his presentation of them – Roosevelt and Churchill famously leveled with the public about the challenges their countries faced during the war while Trump said everything would be fine during the growing threat of the COVID pandemic

President Trump returned the bust of Winston Churchill to the Oval Office after Obama replaced it with a bust of Dr. Martin Luther King; above Trump shows the bust to then-British Prime Minister Theresa May during her January 2017 visit to the White House

The phrase Trump cited during his rally - 'Keep Calm and Carry On' - while popular today was never used during World War II

President Trump returned the bust of Winston Churchill to the Oval Office after Obama replaced it with a bust of Dr. Martin Luther King; above Trump shows the bust to then-British Prime Minister Theresa May during her January 2017 visit to the White House

HE DIDN’T SAY KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON –  HE DID TELL THE TRUTH: CHURCHILL’S WAR 

Winston Churchill did take to the rooftops of London during World War II to watch bombing raids but he never gave a speech from there. The famous Keep Calm and Carry On poster was not what he preached – in fact it dated from before the war, was never distributed and rediscovered in 2000.

Churchill’s message was not to keep calm – it was to brace for the worst and to sacrifice to fight back.

‘We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many long months of struggle and of suffering,’ he warned the British people in May 1940, when the country stood alone as France crumbled. 

The next month, after the British army retreated from Dunkirk, France, in an improvised evacuation on civilian boats, he warned Nazi invasion was a real danger, summoning a fighting spirit with the words: ‘We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.’

Hitler began pounding Britain from the air in September in raids known as the Blitz, with London the worst hit but almost every British city suffering too. Churchill toured bomb sites with his trademark cigar, rather than hiding from the damage. He flashed his V for victory sign to keep up morale but he did not sugarcoat what was happening.  On September 11 he told the nation there was a ‘cruel, wanton, indiscriminate bombing of London’ and warning Hitler’s campaign was ‘killing large numbers of women and children.’ 

Historians say there had been signs of cracked nerves among the public but Churchill would not relent: ‘We can take it!’ 

Morale-raising messages did not shy away from the truth: ‘All the world that is still free marvels at the composure and fortitude with which the citizens of London are facing and surmounting the great ordeal to which they are subjected, the end of which or the severity of which cannot yet be foreseen.’

London took it; so did the country and by December Roosevelt was also leading a nation at war, with the UK no longer standing alone. 

Britain’s Ministry of Information came up with phrase during the war – even producing posters with it –  but internal politics kept the posters from being made public.

Most of the posters were destroyed but, in 2000, the owners of Barter Books in Alnwick, a town in northeastern Britain, came across one. They hung it on the wall and it became so popular they reprinted it and sold.

The logo is now common t-shirts, posters and coffee mugs.

Trump, a longtime Anglophile whose mother was a British citizen, has long sought to tie his presidency to Churchill’s tenure as prime minister. 

One of his first acts as president was to restore the bust of Churchill to the Oval Office after President Barack Obama replaced it with a bust of Dr. Martin Luther King. 

Obama moved the Churchill bust to a place outside the Treaty Room of the White House, a move that sparked outrage from the British across the pond and from many conservatives in America. 

Churchill was given an honorary American citizenship, only one of eight people to receive one. 

Trump brought the Churchill bust back to the Oval, placing it on the table near his desk and moving the King bust to a side table. 

Additionally, White House staff have tied the president to the prime minister at other points in his presidency.

When Trump was criticized, during Black Lives Matter protests in June, for walking across Lafayette Square to St. John’s Episcopal Church to hold up a bible in front of it as a photo-op, the White House said it was something Churchill would do. 

The square was damaged during the protests that sprung up in the wake of George Floyd’s murder and there was a small fire in the church basement ahead of Trump’s visit. The church, which sits across from the White House, is known as the church of presidents. 

‘Through all of time, we’ve seen presidents and leaders across the world who have had leadership moments and very powerful symbols that were important for our nation to see at any given time to show a message of resilience and determination,’ White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said at the time.

‘Like Churchill, we saw him inspecting the bombing damage and it sent a powerful message of leadership to the British people,’ she said. 

Additionally, during his June 2019 state visit to London, Trump toured the Churchill War Rooms with his family.

It was in the labyrinthine bunker that Churchill and his war cabinet plotted war strategy that ultimately led to the Allies’ victory. The underground location kept them safe from German bombing raids. 

President Trump and his family toured the Churchill War Rooms during the June 2019 state visit to London

President Trump and his family toured the Churchill War Rooms during the June 2019 state visit to London

Trump's children posted pictures of the tour to social media

Trump’s children posted pictures of the tour to social media

‘Darling it’s so sad’: Trump tells huge Michigan rally how Melania reacted when she saw Biden on TV, warns ‘far-left lunatics’ will run the government if he wins and says the murder rate in Chicago and Baltimore is ‘higher than in Afghanistan’

President Donald Trump told a large Michigan crowd Thursday night that First Lady Melania Trump thought Joe Biden looked ‘sad’ when she watched him during a Democratic debate before claiming that ‘far-left lunatics’ will run the government if the former vice president wins the November election and that the murder rate in Chicago and Baltimore is ‘higher than in Afghanistan’.

The president arrived at the MBS International Airport in Freeland, Michigan, where he was met by a cheering crowd of several thousand, packed shoulder-to-shoulder, mostly without masks.

‘This is not the crowd of a person who comes in second place,’ Trump declared to cheers before criticizing Biden’s performance during the Democratic debates. 

‘The first lady actually came in… and she watched the debate and she watched Joe and she said, “Darling, it’s so sad,”‘ Trump claimed, before taking aim at Biden’s running mate, Kamala Harris, who he called the ‘most liberal person in the USA’. The mention of Harris brought on boos and jeers from the crowd. 

‘On November 3 Michigan you better vote for me! I got you so many damn car plants,’ Trump said as the crowd cheered while waving ‘Make America Great Again’ signs. 

Trump then claimed that Biden is trying to ‘eliminate new jobs and open your borders’. 

  

President Donald Trump arrived in Michigan for a campaign rally where he quickly launched an attack on Joe Biden, saying his Democratic rival is trying to 'eliminate' jobs and 'open' borders

First Lady Melania Trump and Trump pictured on August 27

President Donald Trump told a Michigan crowd Thursday that First Lady Melania Trump thought Joe Biden looked ‘sad’ when she watched him during a Democratic debate before claiming that ‘far-left lunatics’ will run the government if the former vice president wins the November election and that the murder rate in Chicago and Baltimore is ‘higher than in Afghanistan’ 

The president arrived at the MBS International Airport in Freeland, Michigan, where he was met by a cheering crowd of supporters

The president arrived at the MBS International Airport in Freeland, Michigan, where he was met by a cheering crowd of supporters

Trump was seen waving as he stepped off Air Force One upon arrival for a campaign rally at MBS International Airport in Freeland, Michigan, on Thursday

Trump was seen waving as he stepped off Air Force One upon arrival for a campaign rally at MBS International Airport in Freeland, Michigan, on Thursday 

Later Thursday night, Trump tweeted: 'When we win I, as your President, will totally forgive ALL deferred payroll taxes with money from the General Fund'

Later Thursday night, Trump tweeted: ‘When we win I, as your President, will totally forgive ALL deferred payroll taxes with money from the General Fund’

‘He’s promised to flood your states with refugees,’ Trump said. ‘He would open up the floodgates amid a pandemic and by the way the wall is over 311 miles long right now.

‘The murder rate in Democrat-run cities like Chicago, Baltimore, New York [and] so many others is higher than in Afghanistan, yet Biden supports imposing these failed policies nationwide. You will have crime like you’ve never seen it before,’ Trump insisted.  

‘If Joe Biden is elected far-left lunatics won’t just be running frail Democrat cities, they’ll be running the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security and the US Supreme Court, and we can’t let that happen. 

‘No city, town or suburb will be safe. On November 3 your vote will save America. Remember it’s the most important elect we’ve ever had,’ Trump added. 

At one point, Trump brought up Antifa and asked the crowd: ‘Does anybody want to have somebody from Antifa as a member and as as a resident of your suburb?

He then made up a bizarre scenario, saying: ‘Say Darling, who moved in next door? Oh, it’s a resident of Antifa. No thank you…Let’s get the hell out of here, darling…Ahh, I wish Trump were president.’

Later Thursday night, Trump tweeted: ‘When we win I, as your President, will totally forgive ALL deferred payroll taxes with money from the General Fund. I will ALWAYS protect Seniors and your Social Security! Sleepy Joe Biden will do the opposite, he will raise your taxes and DESTROY our Country!’

Trump arrived in Michigan for the rally despite pushback from officials worried that his rallies are growing in size and flouting public health guidelines intended to halt the COVID-19 spread. 

Michigan’s Democratic Gov Gretchen Whitmer raised alarms earlier on Thursday about the rally. 

Whitmer did not try to scuttle the rally, but warned that such events ‘threaten all that sacrifice that we’ve made’.

‘If the rallies are like those he’s held in recent days in other states, with lots of people close together without masks on projecting their voices, I’m concerned about it,’ she said at a news conference Thursday morning. 

‘This is not a partisan observation. We are in a public health crisis. We all want to get out of this public health crisis. It´s going to take every one of us doing the right things to get out of it together, to make this as short as possible.’ 

Michigan currently caps outdoor events at 100 people and mandates that attendees wear masks if they cannot consistently stay 6 feet away from people who are not part of their households. 

There is an exception, though, which states that nothing in the order can ‘abridge protections guaranteed by the state or federal constitution under these emergency circumstances’.

This week, the state of Nevada became the first to scuttle his plans for rallies initially set for Las Vegas and Reno. 

Trump’s arrival in Michigan comes as he grapples with the fallout from new book ‘Rage’ by Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward.  

Trump arrived in Michigan for the rally despite pushback from officials worried that his rallies are growing in size and flouting public health guidelines intended to halt the COVID-19 spread

Trump arrived in Michigan for the rally despite pushback from officials worried that his rallies are growing in size and flouting public health guidelines intended to halt the COVID-19 spread

Several thousand people came out to hear from the president on Thursday during his campaign rally MBS International Airport in Freeland, Michigan on Thursday

Several thousand people came out to hear from the president on Thursday during his campaign rally MBS International Airport in Freeland, Michigan on Thursday 

Many supporters were seen wearing hats 'MAGA' hats as they waited to hear from the president on Thursday

Many supporters were seen wearing hats ‘MAGA’ hats as they waited to hear from the president on Thursday 

'If Joe Biden is elected far-left lunatics won't just be running frail Democrat cities, they'll be running the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security and the US Supreme Court, and we can't let that happen,' Trump told his supporters (pictured)

‘If Joe Biden is elected far-left lunatics won’t just be running frail Democrat cities, they’ll be running the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security and the US Supreme Court, and we can’t let that happen,’ Trump told his supporters (pictured)

A Trump gestures during a campaign event at the MBS International Airport, in Freeland, Michigan, on Thursday

A Trump gestures during a campaign event at the MBS International Airport, in Freeland, Michigan, on Thursday 

In a series of 18 interviews with Woodward, the president spoke frankly about the dangers posed by the virus – even as he downplayed them publicly – and admitted he had tried to mislead the public.

The book, based on recorded phone interviews, has refocused attention on Trump’s handling of the virus, a subject he has tried to shift away from less than two months before Election Day.

Before departing the White House Trump denied he had lied to the nation and highlighted a surge in virus cases in Europe to contend that the United States is faring well. ‘I really do believe we’re rounding the corner,’ he asserted.

‘Donald Trump knew all along just how deadly this virus is,’ Biden said in a virtual fundraiser. ‘He knew and purposefully played it down because all he was concerned about was his reelection, didn’t want to affect economic growth.’ 

Congress’ top Democrats, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, set the party’s theme on the subject: ‘Trump lied and people died.’ 

But Trump, answering questions at the White House, insisted ‘there was no lie’ in his often-dismissive public comments about the virus last February and March.

He noted that he had limited travel from China, where the virus apparently originated, ‘so, obviously, outwardly I said it’s a very serious problem. … That doesn’t mean I’m going to jump up and down in the air and start saying “people are going to die, people are going to die.” No, no, I’m not going to do that. We’re going to get through this.’

In a burst of tweets earlier Thursday, Trump said that if his comments about playing down the danger of the virus were so bad, why didn’t Woodward report them at the time ‘in an effort to save lives? Didn’t he have an obligation to do so? No, because he knew they were good and proper answers. Calm, no panic!’

Woodward has defended his decision to hold off by saying he needed time to make sure Trump’s private comments were true.

Meanwhile, Trump is resuming an aggressive campaign schedule, despite growing resistance from local leaders who have expressed alarm at his insistence on holding large-scale rallies during a pandemic.

While the rallies so far have been held in airport hangars open to the air, they have been drawing thousands of supporters despite local restrictions. And the majority of attendees have refused to wear masks, even when mandates are in place.

Trump has characterized the rallies as ‘peaceful protests’ and White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said attendees were exercising their First Amendment rights.

This week, Nevada pulled the plug on rallies set for this weekend, citing the state’s ban on gatherings of more than 50 people, drawing fury from Trump’s campaign. 

The Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority warned a company that planned to host the campaign rally for 5,000 people at a private hangar that it would be in violation of the governor´s restrictions and the terms of the company´s lease for the hangar.

‘You are hereby advised that you may not proceed with the proposed gathering,’ the letter states.

Trump spoke until nightfall in Michigan before boarding Air Force One to head back to Washington, DC

Trump spoke until nightfall in Michigan before boarding Air Force One to head back to Washington, DC

The president is seen waving at his supporters as he boarded Air Force One in Freeland, Michigan, on Thursday

The president is seen waving at his supporters as he boarded Air Force One in Freeland, Michigan, on Thursday 

Trump is seen speaking to a crowd of several thousand supporters on Thursday night before heading back to DC

Trump is seen speaking to a crowd of several thousand supporters on Thursday night before heading back to DC  

Meanwhile, Trump's son, Donald Trump Jr, addressed a crowd during a Make America Great Again campaign event at Point Lookout Vineyard in Hendersonville, North Carolina, on Thursday

Meanwhile, Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr, addressed a crowd during a Make America Great Again campaign event at Point Lookout Vineyard in Hendersonville, North Carolina, on Thursday 

Trump Jr is seen greeting US Congressional Candidate Madison Cawthorn during a Make America Great Again campaign event for his father at Point Lookout Vineyard in Hendersonville, North Carolina on Thursday

Trump Jr is seen greeting US Congressional Candidate Madison Cawthorn during a Make America Great Again campaign event for his father at Point Lookout Vineyard in Hendersonville, North Carolina on Thursday 

‘Outrageous!’ tweeted Adam Laxalt, Trump’s Nevada campaign co-chair. ‘This is unprecedented – to cancel an incumbent president’s campaign stop inside 60 days of a major contested election in a swing state. This isn’t over!’

In North Carolina, Trump held a rally this week that drew a mostly mask-less crowd of thousands. 

While an executive order currently limits outdoor gatherings to 50 people and mandates masks in public, the rally was technically legal under state pandemic rules that exempt certain gatherings where people exercise free speech, a spokeswoman for North Carolina’s governor said Wednesday.

Still, the spokeswoman, Dory MacMillan, said: ‘When elected leaders violate the White House coronavirus guidelines surrounding masks and social distancing, especially with large mask-less crowds that sit and stand closely together for hours, they put people´s health at risk.’

Michigan is a vital Electoral College battleground, which Trump won by only 10,704 votes in 2016, helping him breach the Democrats’ ‘blue wall’ and putting him in office.

While Trump aides had all but written off the state earlier this summer, they now say they have seen a tightening in recent weeks and believe they are in a better position than they were in 2016. 

But Democrats see optimism, too, having made major gains there in the 2018 midterms, winning every major statewide office and a handful of congressional seats as well.

Both candidates have been paying frequent visits, with Biden traveling to suburban Detroit on Wednesday to make a direct appeal to blue-collar workers who might have voted Republican four years ago but now regret it.



Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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