Behind in polls, Trump launches battleground state swing
Oct 13, 2020 - 03:24 AM
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump, trailing Democrat Joe Biden by double digits in the polls with the election just three weeks away, returns to the campaign trail on Monday after being hospitalized for coronavirus, setting off on a blitz of key swing states.
Trump’s medical team announced he had tested negative and was no longer contagious as he jetted to Florida — the first of four battleground states he plans to visit over the next four days.
But Biden blasted his handling of the pandemic.
“215,000 dead because of Covid,” the 77-year-old former vice president told a small group of auto workers who gathered in their American-made cars in a parking lot outside a union hall in Toledo, Ohio.
“Trump knew how dangerous the disease was but did nothing,” Biden said. “Why didn’t he tell us? Why didn’t he warn us?”
“His reckless personal conduct since his diagnosis has been unconscionable,” Biden added. “The longer Donald Trump is president, the more reckless he seems to get.”
Trump, 74, who has declared himself “immune” after contracting Covid-19, plans to hold an outdoor campaign rally on Monday evening at the airport in Sanford, Florida.
His physician Sean Conley said Monday the president was now negative and no longer “infectious to others” — following consecutive rapid tests and taking into account a number of other health metrics.
Patients are normally classed as negative only after taking PCR diagnostic tests, and medical experts immediately took to Twitter to call for more data to provide a more accurate picture of Trump’s infectiousness.
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany, in quarantine since testing positive for coronavirus, said rally attendees would be encouraged to wear masks and hand sanitizer would be made available.
“Ultimately, you have a right in this country to show up and express your political viewpoint,” McEnany said on “Fox & Friends.”
White House doctors initially gave Trump the all-clear on Saturday to return to the campaign trail after he was ruled no longer a coronavirus transmission risk, but his claim of immunity is unproven.
Twitter on Sunday hid a tweet from Trump in which he said he was immune, saying the post violated its rules about misleading and potentially harmful misinformation.
Trump is to visit Florida, Pennsylvania, Iowa and North Carolina this week as part of a push to make up ground on Biden, who has a double-digit lead in the national polls according to the RealClearPolitics website.
‘Run its course’
As Trump prepared to leave the White House for the first time since returning on October 5 after three nights at Walter Reed Medical Center, he fired off a series of tweets.
He began the day by lauding his Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett, whose confirmation hearings in the Senate Judiciary Committee began on Monday.
The Republican-controlled Senate is expected to swiftly confirm the 48-year-old judge, potentially shifting the nation’s highest court firmly to the right for generations.
Trump accused Democrats of wanting to turn the United States into a “Socialist Nation” and praised the performance of the stock market under his watch.
“STOCK MARKET UP ANOTHER 300 POINTS – GREATEST LEADING INDICATOR OF THEM ALL!!! DON’T RUIN IT WITH SLEEPY JOE!!!” the president tweeted.
Biden, in his Toledo remarks, lampooned Trump’s fixation with Wall Street, saying it was the “one thing” he cares about.
“The only metric for American prosperity that he values is the Dow Jones Index,” Biden said.
Trump won Florida, Pennsylvania, Iowa and North Carolina — the four states he is visiting this week — in 2016 against Hillary Clinton but is trailing Biden in all four this time around, according to a RealClearPolitics average of state polls.
Biden has razor-thin leads in Iowa and North Carolina, according to RealClearPolitics, but is leading by more substantial margins in Florida and Pennsylvania — 3.7 points and 7.1 points, respectively.
Early in-person voting began Monday in another close state, Georgia, although pictures of hours-long lines that went viral on social media led to accusations of “voter suppression.”
A RealClearPolitics average of national polls has Biden up by 10.2 points.
Biden attacked Trump’s planned Florida visit, saying he was “bringing nothing but reckless behavior, divisive rhetoric, and fear mongering” to the Sunshine State.
“But, equally dangerous is what he fails to bring: no plan to get this virus that has taken the lives of over 15,000 Floridians under control,” Biden said in a statement.
“I’ve helped this country recover before, and my commitment to all Floridians is to build this country back better,” he said.