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With poll numbers dropping, Trump names new campaign manager

As the pandemic continues to worsen, President Trump’s poll numbers have declined -- and now he’s shaking up his reelection bid in response. On Wednesday, Trump replaced campaign manager Brad Parscale with longtime GOP strategist Bill Stapien. The move came after Trump visited Georgia, where COVID-19 cases are rising -- along with a political battle over mask mandates. Lisa Desjardins reports.

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  • Amna Nawaz:

    The list of pandemic victims keeps getting longer tonight, with 3.5 million cases nationwide. And the political fallout keeps growing for President Trump.

    Meanwhile, the issue of face masks has become a front-line fight for a key state this November.

    Lisa Desjardins begins our coverage.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    In Georgia, a political collision over life-and-death decisions.

    As the virus surges, overnight, Republican Governor Brian Kemp signed an order banning any public mask requirements, that in direct conflict with several cities and towns which have ordered masks be worn.

    Today, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said she is keeping her mask order in place.

  • Keisha Lance Bottoms:

    It's a simple thing to do. It's an easy thing to do. And we will just continue to push and ask people to do it, despite the disagreements that we may have.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    This one day after President Trump visited the state, praising Kemp and reopening to a local TV station.

  • President Donald Trump:

    You have reopened, and you're just — you're getting close to 100 percent open, and you have really kept the virus, the level, down, which is an incredible tribute to a lot of good, talented people.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    In fact, the virus has grown in Georgia, with near record case totals yesterday.

    Now indications the crisis overall is taking a deeper political toll on President Trump. Mr. Trump replaced his campaign manager, Brad Parscale, yesterday with a top adviser, Bill Stepien.

    The shakeup comes as his campaign grapples with declining poll numbers. In the past week, separate polls put presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden ahead of Mr. Trump in four key battleground states, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Florida, and North Carolina, all states the president won in 2016.

    This as, nationwide, Mr. Trump faces doubt on his top issue, jobs, where his approval rating is down to just 36 percent. But on the White House lawn today, economic adviser Larry Kudlow pointed to Wall Street and expressed cautious optimism.

  • Larry Kudlow:

    The pandemic is a temporary natural disaster. The market is now up almost 45 percent from the March lows.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Democratic speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi called for Republican senators to push for a larger national response from the White House.

  • Speaker. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.:

    This is such a massive dereliction of duty. People are dying. And so what we are saying to the Senate, join us in asking a president to use executive action for good, instead of ill.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Criticism now is openly boiling over from the president's own party.

    In a Washington Post op-ed, Republican Governor of Maryland Larry Hogan detailed what he called a jarring lack of response and even interference from President Trump that he said left governors hopeless and states in danger. Hogan wrote: "While other countries were racing ahead with well-coordinated regimes, the Trump administration bungled the effort."

    White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany rejected the criticism.

  • Kayleigh McEnany:

    This is revisionist history by Governor Hogan, and it stands in stark contrast to what he said on March 19, where he praised the great communication that the president has had with governors.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    All of this as the upcoming Republican National Convention is in murky waters, too. The Grand Old Party announced it is scaling back, limiting attendance to 2,500 for the first three days, and about 7,000 for the final day, when President Trump attends, that as COVID-19 cases in host state Florida surge.

    Today, another grim record there, with the most daily COVID-related deaths yet recorded. New data show that nearly one-third of all kids tested in the Sunshine State have been positive for the virus.

    While there are hot spots, the problem is growing nationwide. In the past two weeks, cases of coronavirus have increased in some 41 states across the U.S.

    For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Lisa Desjardins.

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