President Donald Trump‘s reelection campaign is launching “Operation MAGA,” an effort to keep the GOP presidential bid going while Trump continues treatment for COVID-19.
The effort includes top Trump surrogates — such as Vice President Mike Pence, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump — ramping up in-person campaign appearances just days after a potential super-spreader event at the White House led to several positive COVID-19 tests among top officials.
Trump’s team will also host multiple virtual events ahead of Wednesday’s vice presidential debate between Pence and Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris.
“Operation MAGA will fire up the entire MAGA universe to keep President Trump’s campaign at full speed until our Commander-in-Chief returns to the campaign trail,” said Bill Stepien, Trump’s campaign manager.
“Vice President Mike Pence, the First Family, our coalitions, and our grassroots supporters will be out in full force to show the real enthusiasm behind the President’s re-election and to show we’re working as hard as he always does. We also encourage all of the President’s supporters to pick up the banner themselves by volunteering in our grassroots Army for Trump, flying their Trump flags, putting out more yard signs, and wearing their MAGA gear proudly.”
Stepien announced Friday he too had tested positive for COVID-19.
The President’s diagnosis throws into question how effective the campaign can be moving forward. Polls continue to show him trailing Democratic rival Joe Biden nationwide and in several battleground states.
Trump has been the driving force in exciting his base, often in the form of large campaign rallies. Without Trump front and center, it makes catching up to Biden in the polls all the more difficult.
Many of those campaign rallies are often violating the White House’s own guidelines on large events in the age of coronavirus. It appears a ceremony at the White House where Trump announced his nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court may have spread the virus to several U.S. Senators and top Trump allies.
With Trump being sidelined, so too are his large rallies. Trump’s campaign, however, seems to be pushing for in-person events to continue as a way to maintain enthusiasm among the GOP base.
Biden has also traveled to several battleground states to host in-person events, and his campaign recently announced they would begin in-person canvassing after previously declining to do so due to COVID-19 concerns. The Democratic nominee has, however, declined to push for large rallies on the scale of Trump’s.
As part of Operation MAGA, Pence is scheduled to travel to Arizona following Wednesday’s debate against Harris. The VP will then vote early in Indiana and appear at “other events yet to be announced.”
Trump’s children will also appear at in-person events following the VP debate, though details have not been announced. The First Family was spotted at this week’s presidential debate declining to wear masks while watching the debate as part of a limited live audience.