2020 US Election

VIDEO: Trump returns to rallies, feels ‘powerful’ since Covid-19 recovery

Trump returns to rallies, feels ‘powerful'

VIDEO: Trump returns to rallies, feels ‘powerful’ since Covid-19 recovery

US President Trump returned to campaigning in Florida on Monday for the first time since his Covid-19 diagnosis. He appeared at the outdoor rally without a protective face covering and praising his management of the pandemic.

The president threw masks into the crowd as he entered the airport rally in Sanford and talked about his recovery from Covid-19.

“I went through it now. They say I’m immune. I feel so powerful,” Trump told thousands of supporters standing shoulder to shoulder, most without protective masks. “I’ll kiss the guys and the beautiful women. I’ll just give you a big fat kiss.”

Trump’s return to rallies kicked off a three-week race to the election, with new polls showing Biden ahead in two battleground states that could decide the November 3 election

Florida’s rally it the first of four planned for this week and it showed Trump had not changed his approach to campaigning since contracting the virus. “If you want to get out there, get out,” he told the crowd.

Critics continue to slam Trump for failing to encourage supporters at campaign events and White House staff t wear protective masks and follow social distancing rules. 

At least 11 close Trump aides have tested positive for the coronavirus, which so far has infected more than 7.8 million people in the US, killed more than 214,000 and left millions unemployed. 

The rally came hours after Trump tested negative for Covid-19 on consecutive days and was not infectious to others, according to the White House.  They were the president’s first negative tests announced by the White House since Trump confirmed on October 2 that he had contracted the virus. 

Dr Sean Conley failed to mention when the tests were conducted but that they and other clinical and laboratory data “indicate a lack of detectable viral replication.”

Trump’s been ‘reckless’

In a statement, Biden’s campaign confirmed he had tested negative on Monday. The former VP has tested negative several times since Trump announced his positive test. 

Trump, 74, had spent months seeking to shift public attention away from the pandemic and his handling of the crisis. But his own diagnosis put the spotlight back on it in the final stretch of the race. Biden has since scaled up his attacks and reached into states that normally lean Republican. 

On Monday, Biden made two campaign appearance in Ohio, where he was once considered a long shot. But recently polls now show a tight race. Speaking in Cincinnati, he criticised Trump for playing down the coronavirus threat and mocked the president’s statements that he did not want to panic Americans about the threat.

“Trump is the one who panicked. His reckless personal conduct since his diagnosis, as well, has been unconscionable. And the longer Donald Trump is president, the more reckless he gets,” Biden said.

At an earlier event in Toledo, Biden told unionised auto workers that he and former President Barack Obama played a key role in keeping the U.S. auto industry afloat during the financial crisis and recession more than a decade ago.

It was Biden’s second campaign trip in 2 weeks to Ohio. Trump won the state by 8 percentage points in 2016 and almost certainly must carry it again to win re-election. No Republican has won the White House without carrying Ohio.

Biden has a 7 percentage point lead in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania – two states won by Trump in 2016 –  building momentum in two states, Reuters/Ipsos opinion polls showed on Monday.

Most recent polls in Florida, where a Trump loss would dramatically narrow his path to re-election, showed Biden with a small lead and ahead with key demographic groups in the state, particularly seniors. Trump won Florida in 2016 by just 1.2 percentage points.

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