President Trump boasted about being “immune” to the coronavirus, painted a rosy picture of his administration’s pandemic response and launched a multipronged attack against Democratic nominee Joe Biden in his return to the campaign trail Monday following his COVID-19 diagnosis.
One week after being discharged from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Trump spoke for about an hour before a huge crowd of supporters at an airport in Sanford, Fla. He touted his administration’s effort to fast-track a coronavirus vaccine and promised a swift economic recovery on his watch, even as stimulus negotiations with Capitol Hill appeared stalled.
“I am fighting to make sure we eradicate the virus, rebuild the economy and save our country from the radical left,” Trump told the crowd, which periodically launched into cheers of “USA!”
Trump claimed that Biden, who has said he would follow scientists if they recommended future shutdowns to combat the virus, would hamper the economic recovery and “prolong” the pandemic. He also criticized Democratic governors for what he described as overly strict coronavirus restrictions, warning that “the cure cannot be worse” than the virus.
“Biden would terminate our recovery, delay the vaccine, prolong the pandemic and annihilate Florida’s economy with a draconian, unscientific lockdown,” he claimed.
Trump repeatedly referred back to his own battle with the coronavirus, thanking his doctors and falsely describing an experimental treatment he received as “cure” for the virus.
“Now they say I’m immune. I feel so powerful. I’ll walk in there. I’ll kiss everyone in that audience,” Trump told the crowd. “I’ll kiss the guys and the beautiful women, just give you a big fat kiss.”
However, little is known about how long a patient may be immune from COVID-19, and there have been reports of individuals being infected twice.
Trump also briefly offered sympathies for those who have lost loved ones due to the virus.
“I have such respect for people in this country, the way they have handled it. It’s been an incredible love fest,” he said. “And sympathies from all of us to those people whose family members who have died, whose friends — I have lost friends.”
The event made clear that the president does not plan to change his approach to campaigning amid the pandemic, even following his own bout with COVID-19.
Trump did not wear a mask, and many in the crowd were also maskless and closely packed together. Immediately upon taking the stage, Trump marveled at the size of his audience and poked fun at Biden for seeing a small crowd at a socially distanced campaign event in Ohio earlier in the day.
The president’s appearance in Florida marks the first of four rallies he is scheduled to hold this week in the same number of days. Trump is slated to travel to Pennsylvania on Tuesday, Iowa on Wednesday and North Carolina on Thursday as he looks to galvanize his support about three weeks from Election Day.
Sources: The Hill and Fox News; Photo: The Hill