Image Courtesy of AP News
By Jeremy Perillo
Roughly a week after President Donald Trump tested positive for the coronavirus, several hundred of his supporters gathered on the South Lawn of the White House for one of his infamous rallies. This event, however, appeared different from his RNC acceptance speech, held on the same Lawn.
Speaking from the South Portico, Trump addressed his audience in a fairly short speech, around 18 minutes. Most of those in attendance were wearing matching blue shirts and red MAGA hats and were a part of conservative activist and avid Trump supporter Candace Owens’ group “Blexit,” which seeks to bring Black and Brown voters into the Republican party.
At the time of this gathering on Saturday October 10, information on Trump’s COVID status was unclear. The White House had not released information on if Trump was still positive for COVID or if he remained contagious following his stay at Walter Reed Medical Center. Trump commented on how he felt at the rally.
“I’m feeling great,” he said. “We’re starting very big with our rallies … because we cannot allow our country to become a socialist country.”
As Trump and his campaign enter into the waning weeks of the campaign post-COVID diagnosis, the president embraced rhetoric he has often used since the virus came to the United States.
“We’ll get rid of it all over the world. See big flare-ups in Europe, flare-ups in Canada. You saw that today. A lot of flare-ups. It is going to disappear. It is disappearing and the vaccines are going to help and the therapeutics are going to help a lot,” Trump said.
Hours before Trump returned to the campaign trail in Florida on Monday October 13, White House physician Sean Conley released a letter that the president had tested negative for Covid-19 on consecutive days, using a variety of different tests.
As the first true campaign event following his positive diagnosis, Trump’s rally offered an opportunity to shift or redirect from any message before he became sick. This comes as Trump polls 8 to 10 points behind his opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden, which may be due to Trump’s handling of the pandemic.
Trump came out swinging, as he typically does in his rallies, and indicated that he is not worried about his contagion or susceptibility.
“One thing with me, the nice part, I went through it, now they say I’m immune. … I feel so powerful,” Trump said. “I’ll walk in there, I’ll kiss everyone in that audience. I’ll kiss the guys, and the beautiful women, and the — everybody. I’ll just give you a big fat kiss.”
Trump’s campaign is indeed embracing his infection as a bonus to supporting his election; he knows a lot about Covid-19 because he has had it.
“He has experience now fighting the coronavirus as an individual. Those firsthand experiences, Joe Biden, he doesn’t have those,” campaign spokeswoman Erin Perrine said. “Those firsthand experiences are what are going to get President Trump four more years.”
As the November 3 election comes less than twenty days away, Trump will be on the campaign trail for much of the remaining time, visiting various swing states to lure undecided voters.