Offered hypothetical do-over, Trump wouldn't change COVID response

There's no shortage of ways Trump could've answered these questions coherently, but that might've led him to express a degree of regret over his failures.
Image: President Trump Departs White House For New Jersey
President Donald Trump exits the Oval Office and walks to Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House on Oct. 1, 2020.Drew Angerer / Getty Images file

In a town-hall event that has not yet aired, Sinclair Media's Eric Bolling asked Donald Trump what he could've done differently in the response to the coronavirus pandemic. As TPM noted, the president's answer left much to be desired.

"If you had a mulligan or a do-over on one aspect of the way you handled it, what would it be?" Bolling asked. "Not much," Trump said. "Look, it's all over the world. You have a lot of great leaders, a lot of smart people -- it's all over the world. It came out of China. China should've stopped it."

For emphasis, as part of the same answer, the president went on to again say "not much" in reference to how he might've changed his handling of the crisis.

Moments later, Trump added, in reference to mask-wearing to stop the spread of the virus, that he doesn't have a problem with masks, but "some people don't like it scientifically."

This is where the nation finds itself months into the pandemic. The president looks at the data -- 8.3 million cases in the U.S., along with more than 220,000 American deaths -- and believes his administration's response was effectively flawless. He simultaneously wants the public to be skeptical of masks, which public-health experts see as vital to slowing the spread of the virus.

There's no shortage of ways Trump could've answered these questions more coherently, but that might've led the Republican to express a degree of regret over his failures, and that is a step the president simply isn't prepared to take.

The result is a difficult election-season pitch: those who believe Trump's response to the pandemic couldn't have been much better should support the incumbent. Given the percentage of Americans who disapprove of the president's handling of the crisis, he probably ought to try a different line.