For months, President Trump belittled Joseph R. Biden Jr. as an opponent cowering in the basement in a mask as he sought to dismiss the seriousness of a pandemic threatening the nation’s health — and his re-election prospects.
But with his sudden embrace of masks and the canceling of the Republican National Convention in Jacksonville, Fla., on Thursday, Mr. Trump has reluctantly conceded to the reality of a political landscape that has been transformed by disease and fear. A pandemic that once struck Democratic states like New York and California has moved with alarming force into red America and helped to recast his contest with Mr. Biden, his presumptive Democratic opponent.
“This presidential race is going to tighten,” said Scott Reed, who was the campaign manager for Bob Dole, the Republican senator who ran for president in 1996. “Stepien has brought a much-needed dose of discipline to the campaign and the results are clear — sharper press conferences, masks and booting the Florida national convention. The economy is maintaining strength, and now all that is needed is a vaccine to give the country hope and optimism about the future.”