After a week in which President Trump deliberately courted blame for the entire coronavirus pandemic response by egging on demonstrators, reopening the national parks and repeatedly made snide remarks about the risks of waiting too long, it appears the president is finally listening to his advisors - at least on the messaging front.
In his first major break with Republican governors since the beginning of the pandemic, President Trump said during Wednesday evening's press briefing that he "strongly disagreed" with Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp's decision to start reopening his state on Friday.
"I told the governor of Georgia, Brian Kemp, that I disagree strongly with his decision to open certain facilities which are in violation of the phase one guidelines for the incredible people of Georgia," the president said during his nightly press conference on Wednesday. "But at the same time, he must do what he thinks is right, I want him to do what he thinks is right."
Specifically, Trump cited Georgia's non-compliance with the standards laid out in the 'Phase 1' federal guidelines as his reason for disagreeing with the decision. Remember, qualifying for phase one requires seeing a 14-day decline in new infections, though cases have declined from record highs seen earlier this month.
Trump's comment prompted a torrent of amazed tweets and more than a few jokes about what many imagine is Kemp's utter shock at Trump's decision to distance himself from the governors.
Kemp watching Trump's presser today pic.twitter.com/v8lgcJ6wyh— Jack Posobiec, IWO (@JackPosobiec) April 23, 2020
Kemp might be disappointed, but this represents a critical turning point for the president, who appears to be listening to the advice of his closest advisors once again instead of almost pathological thirst for political confrontation. According to Kempe's plan, The state would begin loosening some lockdown restrictions on Friday, and by Monday, gyms, beauty salons and even restaurants and bars would be allowed to reopen.
The governor's decision, which he announced on Monday, was met with a hail of criticism from scientists, the press, Democrats and even some Republicans. Many small business owners have said they probably won't reopen right away despite the decision, and the mayors of the state's biggest cities - all of whom are Democrats - are telling residents to simply ignore the governor.