“Don’t let COVID dominate you!” — TrumpWearing a dark blue business suit, a blue tie, and a mask, Mr. Trump walked out of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in the Washington DC suburbs on Monday evening pumping his fist.
After a short helicopter ride, Mr Trump was pictured alone on the Truman Balcony of the White House. He removed his protective face mask, before giving a thumbs-up and a military-style salute.
A couple of hours later, he tweeted a campaign-style clip of his return set to stirring music.
Mr Trump also recorded a video message, urging Americans to get back to work.
“You’re going to be it!” he told them, adding: “We’re going to be out front. As your leader, I had to do that. I knew there’s danger to it, but I had to do it. I stood out front, and led.”
Mr Trump also speculated: “Now I’m better, maybe I’m immune, I don’t know”.
The World Health Organization says it is too early to know if people who have recovered from Covid-19 are protected from a second infection, and if so, how long this protection might last. The president’s own medical team does not consider him to be totally alright yet.
Mr Trump also promised that vaccines were “coming momentarily”, although the US Centers for Disease Control has said no vaccine is expected to be widely available before the middle of next year.
Donald Trump says he has overcome the coronavirus – and you can, too.
In his video message from the White House, a mask-less Trump tells the American public: “Don’t be afraid of it. You’re going to beat it.”
And so the president’s message in the final weeks of his re-election campaign takes shape. He contracted the coronavirus because he was an out-front leader and he “had to do that”.
“Nobody that’s a leader would not do what I did,” he said.
It is a message almost messianic in its undertones – one that the rest of his party is amplifying. The president has suffered and overcome, and will lead the nation to a promised land beyond the virus.
New York Post columnist Miranda Devine, quote-tweeted by the president, said Mr Trump would return to the campaign trail as an “invincible hero”. Georgia Senator Kelly Loeffler tweeted out a video of Mr Trump tackling a virus-headed antagonist.
There is political and personal risk for the president, of course. He could experience a relapse or long-term medical difficulties. Americans who have lost loved ones to the disease may find his words and actions ill-considered or offensive.
The president, however, seems determined to turn his recent weakness into a strength.