American presidential election watchers are always primed for what they call the “October surprise”.
This year’s was dropped by Donald Trump in a 1am bombshell tweet that has thrown the race for the White House into chaos.
First and foremost, Americans will want to know the running of the country is in safe hands after the commander-in-chief confirmed he had contracted COVID-19.
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But – with him reported to be “doing well” – questions around what it means for his efforts to secure another four years in the White House are impossible to avoid.
Will Trump remain well enough to continue his campaign, even via tweet, from his quarantine bunker?
If not, would Joe Biden suspend his campaign out of respect? What about the remaining two debates?
Some hugely consequential conversations are about to take place.
American politics finds itself in uncharted territory less than a month from the election, and with the country already rocking from the pandemic and months of social unrest.
One question is unavoidable: how significant to voters is Trump’s own positive test when he has spent months publicly downplaying his own vulnerability and that of everyone else to the virus?
Will those thousands who have packed into his recent rallies, many eschewing masks and ignoring warnings about the risks of the virus, feel now there has been a failure of leadership?
In a very unpredictable year, with a very unpredictable incumbent president, few would want to predict what will happen in the next few days.
The first debate between Mr Trump and Mr Biden left many Americans frustrated and appalled by the state of the race to lead them for the next four years.
But, if that was unsettling, the overnight news has sent a shockwave across the country, among those who love Donald Trump and those who loathe him.
The presidential historian Michael Beschloss tweeted that “history is unfolding before our eyes”.
In these uncertain times, this is not the sort of history-making moment America needed.