By Jon Keller

BOSTON (CBS) – What a day it’s been, a devastating one for the White House and the Trump campaign, a sobering and disconcerting one for all Americans.

One hopes for a swift and full recovery for the President, the First Lady and all others caught up in this outbreak. Coming as it does at the height of the campaign, these events inevitably raise questions about the process and the future. Here are three submitted Friday by viewers and social-media followers, all before the news that the president had been taken to the hospital for treatment and observation.

“If President Trump becomes incapacitated, what happens to the election is it postponed?” – Claire via email

Let’s hope that never happens. But no, the election will not be postponed. It would require approval by both the House and Senate and that isn’t happening. They can’t even agree on what day it is.

If a president becomes very sick or passes away before Election Day the nominating party has the right to put forward a replacement, but in this case people have already voted and its too late to change the ballots. Donald Trump’s name will be on the ballot on November 3.

U.S. President Donald Trump leaves the White House for Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on the South Lawn of the White House on October 2, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

“Shouldn’t everyone (including the Biden camp) quarantine once they were exposed at the debate?” – Suzysassafras on Instagram

My esteemed colleague Dr. Mallika Marshall says yes, anyone who came within six feet of the president or First Lady at the debate for 15 minutes or more should quarantine. But this is a golden opportunity for the Biden campaign to be out campaigning while the president is stuck inside.

It will be tough for the Trump campaign to call Biden out for it when it was likely they who exposed him to the virus. But this is also an opportunity for President Trump to at least try to defuse some of the negative fallout from his handling of virus precautions by coming out of confinement with a new attitude towards masks and distancing, an epiphany that might go over well with some key voting groups. Then again, there’s nothing in his background to suggest any willingness to show contrition and repentance, even now with high stakes.

“What if this is a ploy and he comes back saying ‘see! I am tougher than the virus. It’s no worse than the flu.’”? – Valerie on Facebook

Again, this question was submitted before word of the president’s hospitalization. Judging from what his doctor is saying and the video of him en route, it looks to be all too real to me.

However, if it’s a ploy in any way it’s the worst political ploy in history. There is no way he could keep exaggeration of coronavirus symptoms from being exposed. If he has a mild, brief bout of it, as he hopefully will, he can try to use those talking points you describe, but that just plays into a key Biden campaign theme, that if you’re rich and powerful you can survive COVID but good luck if you aren’t.

Jon Keller


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