John Kornblum, 77, was the US Ambassador to Bonn and Berlin from 1997 to 2001. He then switched to the private sector, but continues to closely monitor and comment on transatlantic events. The Tagess mirror reached him at his home in Nashville, Tennessee.
Mr. Kornblum, US President Donald Trump tested positive for Corona more than 30 days before the election. Can he expect a merciful bonus?
Would that be a normal choice, yes. But this is not a normal choice. The people who will pity him are the ones who will choose him anyway. And those who don’t want to vote for him won’t develop much compassion either.
And what about the others, the undecided?
According to polls, just under 10 percent of voters still don’t know who to vote on Nov. 3. Many have already voted. That 10 percent are described as moderate Republicans who voted for him in 2016 because they hoped for change. Now they have serious doubts about him as a person and how he acts. So I believe this will harm him.
What exactly does that do to Trump’s election campaign?
It totally disrupts his message. He did everything he could to get the Corona issue off the table. He wanted to talk about the radical left, urban violence and law and order. He downplayed the danger of the virus and made fun of masks. He is no longer credible on this matter. His own contamination combined with his catastrophic performance in last Tuesday’s TV game – that puts him completely off track.
What did you think when you heard about Trump’s contamination?
My first thought was: now it is the right one. He downplayed the danger of the virus, he was arrogant. My second thought was this will almost completely destroy his chances of re-election. He urgently needed positive news. I say this very well knowing that we have all learned not to underestimate him. Normal considerations don’t work for him.
Former US Ambassador John Kornblum Photo: Kai-Uwe Heinrich
Can you imagine him campaigning outside of quarantine, for example through daily press conferences, where it’s all about him?
No. And he can no longer hold his daily meetings.
Is it okay for Joe Biden to continue his campaign?
Absolutely. Under no circumstances should he interrupt this as he has tested negative. It is important that he performs like he does now in Grand Rapids, Swing State Michigan. He must get votes from voters living outside of liberal cities. He has a good chance of winning Michigan back. And don’t forget, he was always very careful and had to let Trump tease him so that he does fewer and fewer events and always wears a mask. Now Biden suddenly looks very good.