Coronavirus Surges in Florida, Arizona, Texas Imperil Trump Campaign Reboot

President Donald Trump is looking to shake up his bruised campaign and leave a month of negative polling behind him in June, but a surge in coronavirus cases in three critical states will follow him into July, which could seriously complicate efforts to recast the race.

Florida, Arizona and Texas—all led by Republican governors—are grappling with an explosion of cases. "Arizona has lost control of the epidemic," declared Children's Hospital of Philadelphia disease monitors, warning it was "eclipsing the New York City boroughs even on their worst days."

In Texas, Governor Greg Abbott rolled back parts of the state's reopening plan, shuttering bars again this past Friday after a 79 percent spike in its weekly average of infections. Florida hit a record 9,585 daily cases this weekend, far eclipsing Italy's peak of 6,153, with three times the population.

"In Texas, Greg Abbott followed Trump's philosophy of 'see no evil, hear no evil' and do as little testing as possible so it looks like you don't have a problem, and that has come back to hurt Texans in a bad way," Representative Joaquin Castro, a Texas Democrat, told Newsweek.

"Governors are going to feel the impact of having stood with Trump instead of with public safety, because the virus doesn't care if you're a red state or blue state," said Luis Miranda, a former Obama administration official, who has family in Florida.

That danger is crystal clear to Artemio Muñiz, chairman of the Federation of Hispanic Republicans in Texas, who said he was infected with the virus after going out with friends recently and is recovering along with his brother and father, who is in the hospital.

"I think the surge in cases can definitely be a real problem, not just for President Trump's re-election but also for our Republican Party," said Muñiz, who does not support the president but will not endorse Biden, as some other Republicans have.

Dave Wasserman of the nonpartisan Cook Political Report ranked Texas eighth among states Trump won in 2016 but Biden could flip, behind Georgia but ahead of states like Iowa and Ohio, which have recently appeared to be in play for Biden. While Trump won Texas by 9 percent in 2016, a Fox News poll last week showed Biden leading by 1 percent.

His victory in the state would amount to an electoral earthquake, yet Muñiz warned, "Absolutely, Democrats could win Texas."

U.S. Representative Ruben Gallego of Arizona said Trump is bleeding support from parts of his 2016 base, including suburban women worried about their family's health and older voters watching the "inaction" and "uncaring" way Trump and state leaders are handling the pandemic.

"Two portions of that coalition are consistently reminded how incompetent the Trump campaign and Ducey are, and they're one in the same, because they show up to the same events," he said, referring to Governor Doug Ducey.

The Trump campaign did not respond to a request for comment before publication, but Bryan Lanza, an adviser to the Trump campaign in 2016 and the presidential transition, said no one was under the illusion there weren't going to be ongoing cases of the virus. He added that leaders should be worried only about deaths from the outbreak.

He joked that he wanted to visit his home in Los Angeles, but his mother, who is diabetic, told him to stay away. "When it comes to a senior citizen who is diabetic like my mom, we're going to lock her up for a year, send her movies and food, and tell her to enjoy her beach house," he said. "Everyone else, just wear a mask."

The Biden campaign told Newsweek that the pandemic has shed light on Trump's inability to effectively lead the country through a crisis, and that instead the president blames others for his failures. "As states like Arizona, Florida and Texas see cases surge, Trump cannot hide from the reality on the ground that too many families are living through right now," said spokesman Kevin Muñoz. "In these communities, voters know who is to blame for the failed response."

In Florida, the alarming rise of infections has increased the pressure on Governor Ron DeSantis, who is aligned with the president and has shot back at those critical of the state's handling of the virus. He faced added criticism when he blamed "overwhelmingly Hispanic" day laborers and agricultural workers for a spike in cases because they pack into a school bus "like sardines," increasing opportunities for transmission.

The offices of DeSantis, Ducey and Abbott did not respond to Newsweek requests for comment before publication.

Recent reports say the Trump campaign is looking to resuscitate a campaign that June polls routinely showed was trailing Biden's by double digits nationally. A source close to the campaign, who asked for anonymity to offer a frank assessment, said Trump has been deprived of more beneficial political ground to take on Biden.

"Polls are what they are, but it's June. You want to talk about the economy and how to confront China instead of police reform and race," the source said. "The 40 million people filing for unemployment because of COVID are going to want to have a plan pretty soon of how you start life again."

Trump was not focused on that blaring news this weekend, instead engaging, again, in the politics of racial grievance after retweeting a video where a supporter could be heard yelling "white power" at counterprotesters. Hour later, Trump deleted the tweet, and the White House said the president hadn't heard the "white power" proclamation.

With the economy battered, the Trump campaign has instead turned to a "Restoring, Rebuilding and Renewing" message.

But Gallego said time is not on Trump's side to do either of those things because of the enduring strength and danger posed by the coronavirus. Arizona has already pushed back the start of the school year by one week, and families will have to start making decisions for their kids as October 1 early voting nears.

"We're still going to be in crisis in September," Gallego said. "Kids are going to be going back to school, and families will still be thinking about the coronavirus. President Trump will have three weeks to turn that around before early voting starts."

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Florida Governor Ron DeSantis meets with President Donald Trump on April 28 to discuss his state's reopening plans. Pool/Getty