WASHINGTON (AP) – President Donald Trump and his team wanted his campaign back on track, plotting an aggressive return to political activity, including a major event at the White House on Saturday and a rally in Florida on Monday, a week after he was hospitalized for a virus that killed more than 210,000 Americans.
While questions about his health remain – and Democratic opponent Joe Biden is stepping up his own campaigns – Trump planned to leave the Washington area for the first time since his hospital stay. He is also stepping up his radio and television appearances with conservative interviewers, hoping to make up for lost time with just over three weeks to election day and already voting millions.
The president has not been seen publicly since returning from the military hospital where he received experimental treatments for the coronavirus ̵
Two weeks after his rose garden event, which has been dubbed a “superspreader” for the virus, Trump plans to call another large crowd outside the White House on Saturday in what his administration calls a “peaceful protest for law and order”. More than two dozen people affiliated with the White House have signed COVID-19 since the President’s event on Sept. 26, which announced Judge Amy Coney Barrett as his Supreme Court nominee.
Trump will address the Saturday group, from which at least several hundred supporters are expected, from the balcony of the White House. All participants must bring or receive masks. They will also be given temperature checks and asked to fill out a short questionnaire. Participants are urged to follow CDC guidelines, which include wearing masks and social distancing.
Trump’s Monday rally in Sanford, Florida was originally scheduled to take place on October 2, the day after he tested positive.
The announcement of the new event came when Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s leading infectious disease expert, again warned the White House to avoid large gatherings of people without a mask.
Speaking of the Barrett incident in an interview with The Associated Press, he said, “I was not surprised to see a superspreader incident under the circumstances.” That means “crowded, gathered environment, with no masks. It’s not surprising to see an outbreak, ”he said.
The District of Columbia virus restrictions prohibit outdoor gatherings of more than 50 people, although this rule has not been strictly enforced. Masks are mandatory for most people outdoors, but the regulations don’t apply to states and the Trump White House has openly disregarded them for months.
And next week in Florida? Trump tweeted on Friday that he was “for a very big rally!” Would be in Sanford.
Meanwhile, the city hall-style Trump-Biden debate was officially canceled next Thursday, a few days after Trump pulled back when the sponsorship commission switched it from personal to virtual following Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis.
Trump said the Presidential Debate Commission was protecting Biden from having to take over the president in person. But Biden’s team said the one calling for protection was Trump.
“It is shameful that Donald Trump has had the only debate in which voters can ask the questions – but it comes as no surprise,” said Biden spokesman Andrew Bates. “Everyone knows that Donald Trump likes to harass reporters, but apparently he does not have the courage to answer voters for his files at the same time as Vice President Biden.”
Trump is now making the rounds of the friendly conservative media, calling Fox News host Sean Hannity on Thursday evening and spending two hours live with radio host Rush Limbaugh on Friday, calling his campaign a “radio rally”.
Trump held court for his re-election campaign, his fight against the coronavirus, and resurrecting negotiations with Democrats to pass an economic incentive bill, and appealed directly to his base of loyal supporters to flock to the election. He followed with a recorded appearance on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News Show on Friday night.
In this interview, Trump was asked if he had been retested for COVID-19. “I was tested again and I haven’t even found out numbers or anything. But I’ve been retested and I know I’m either down or free, ”he said.
Fauci said in his AP interview, “Let me just say what CDC guidelines are in place to get people back into society. It is usually 10 days from the onset of symptoms. “
That start for Trump was October 1st, according to his doctors. The White House President’s Doctor, Navy Cmdr. Sean Conley said Trump, who was surrounded by minimal staff while at work in the White House Residence and the Oval Office, could hold events again on Saturday.
Conley added that Trump showed no signs of his disease getting worse or any side effects to the aggressive course of therapy he had received.
While reports of re-infection in COVID-19 victims are rare, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that even people recovering from the disease continue to wear masks, stay aloof, and follow other precautions. It was unclear whether Trump, who has refused to wear masks in most situations, would follow this guide.
In an interview with Limbaugh, Trump again credited the experimental antibody drug he received last week with accelerating his recovery.
“I wasn’t in my best shape,” he said. “One day later I was fine.” He promised to expedite the distribution of the drug to Americans in need, though it would require action from the Food and Drug Administration.
He speculated to Limbaugh that without the drug I might not have recovered at all. However, there is no way to know how the drug affected its progression with the virus.
Despite public and private polls showing he is lagging behind BidenTrump predicted a bigger victory in 2020 than four years ago. He won a majority on the electoral college in 2016, but lost the national referendum to Democrat Hillary Clinton.
As for economic aid to businesses and individuals affected by the pandemicHe said, “I would frankly see a bigger stimulus package than either the Democrats or the Republicans are offering.” He made this comment just days after breaking off talks with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi “until after the election” because the GOP rejected the high price of the assistance it was asking for.
Associate press writer Ashraf Khalil contributed to this report.