Trump gathers supporters at White House, plans more rallies

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Washington (AFP)

Nine days after testing positive for Covid-19, US President Donald Trump was preparing to welcome hundreds of supporters to the White House on Saturday, hoping to revive his struggling campaign within four weeks of Election Day .

Trump said he was feeling “really good” – but doubts persist about his health, with the president’s doctor appearing more concerned with pleasing his star patient than communicating transparently with the public.

“Right now I’m out of meds, haven’t taken any meds since, you know, probably eight hours ago,” Trump told Fox News Friday night, the first on-camera interview since his diagnosis and three nights. hospitalization.

Trump plans to hold a rally in critical Florida state on Monday – a move called “reckless” by rival Joe Biden, in light of concerns the president could still be contagious.

Undeterred, the Trump campaign announced two more rallies next week – on the Pennsylvania battlefield on Tuesday and in Iowa on Wednesday.

And on Saturday, dozens of Trump supporters with red “MAGA” heads were eagerly gathering outside the White House to listen to an outdoor speech that should focus on law enforcement in black communities.

“Trump is the kind of president who if he stands up for a certain cause he stands up for it,” said one of them, a Mexican-born American serviceman named Daniel, who said he wanted to show his support for the police.

For months, drawing inspiration from a president who avoided, and at times mocked, wearing masks, White House advisers were rarely seen masked inside the West Wing.

Since Trump and his wife Melania tested positive, the mood has changed. A source with knowledge of the planning for Saturday’s event said all guests will need to wear a mask to listen to Trump give his address from a balcony.

In the crowd queuing outside, some were masked but many were not.

A similar rally two weeks ago, to announce the appointment of Conservative Justice Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, was pointed out as a likely source of many of the dozens of positive White House cases since.

Anthony Fauci, the respected director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, called it a “big-ticket event”.

Many questions remain unanswered about the White House outbreak, with more than a dozen cases recorded in the president’s inner circle, including his spokesman Kayleigh McEnany.

“When was the president’s last negative Covid test? Asked Pete Buttigieg, a former Democratic presidential candidate now slated for a prominent role in a Biden administration if he defeats Trump on November 3.

– 213,000 Americans dead –

Trump’s biggest blame – overwhelming public dissatisfaction with his handling of the pandemic – has returned as the campaign’s main issue thanks to his own infection, with cases on the rise again across the country.

The seven-day average of daily new cases recorded between Oct. 3-9 – 47,184 – was the highest since the week of Aug. 13–19 with an average of 47,530 new cases, according to an AFP analysis of University data. Johns Hopkins. .

“More than 213,000 Americans have died from this virus – and the hard truth is it shouldn’t have happened this way,” Biden tweeted on Saturday.

The former vice president of Barack Obama – who is currently nearly 10 points ahead in national polls and has solidified his lead in the main battlefield states – continues to campaign at his own pace.

On the Republican side, meanwhile, there is growing concern over the state of the race – with some party heavyweights blatantly sounding the alarm bells.

“If on Election Day people are angry and have lost hope and are depressed… I think it could be a terrible election,” Senator Ted Cruz warned this week.

“I think we could lose the White House and both Houses of Congress, that it could be a bloodbath of Watergate proportions. ”

Trump insists pollsters are all wrong – and counting the days until he can get back on the election track.

“The president does a great job speaking directly to the American people,” spokesman Hogan Gidley said on Fox News on Saturday, “without the filter of the mainstream media.”

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