Donald Trump

How Will Trump's COVID Diagnosis Impact the 2020 Presidential Campaign?

Boston University professor Thomas Whalen told NBC10 Boston he thinks the campaign will "grind to a halt" given Friday's news

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The news that President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump have been diagnosed with COVID-19 could have major repercussions on the 2020 presidential campaign.

"It appears it would have to grind to a halt here," Boston University associate professor and presidential historian Thomas Whalen told NBC10 Boston on Friday. "The question of whether there will be any presidential debates -- that's also thrown for a loop here. I doubt given the circumstances that would be appropriate."

"I still think we need to be updated on President Trump's condition before anything can be decided," he added.

Melania Trump said in a tweet Friday that she and her husband are "feeling good & have postponed all upcoming engagements." The next presidential debate is scheduled for Oct. 15.

Whalen said Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has to be very careful with how he responds to the news of Trump's positive coronavirus test.

"He basically just has to feel sympathetic to the president and his wife," he said. "He really can't say anything more than that or else it will seem like he's insulting the president or taking advantage of the situation for his own political reasons."

If Trump's condition worsens, Whalen said it's possible that the 25th Amendment could be invoked and Vice President Mike Pence could end up as acting president.

There are also serious national security implications, he said.

"Our country's national security could be at risk here," Whalen said. "Enemies of ours might try to take advantage of the disorganization and chaos. This is kind of a very critical, even perilous, time for the United States. We need to handle this very carefully. The Trump administration needs to get in front of it this morning, saying, 'Everything is fine. Our national security apparatus is coordinated.'"

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