Ireland Trump to host hundreds on White House lawn today...

Trump to host hundreds on White House lawn today after Covid-19 diagnosis

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US President Donald Trump, who is infected with Covid-19, will speak at an in-person event at the White House on Saturday aiming to show he has beaten the coronavirus and is back in the fray.

Mr Trump plans his first steps toward resuming in-person election campaigning with this address to hundreds of supporters, before hosting another rally in Florida on Monday.

It follows the announcement that Thursday’s second presidential debate between Mr Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden has been cancelled for “health and safety reasons”.

Mr Trump has been sidelined for more than week since his Covid-19 diagnosis during a critical juncture in campaigning for the November 3rd election.

Opinion polls show the Democrat’s Joe Biden leading Mr Trump by a significant margin nationally, but more narrowly in some of the battleground states that may determine the outcome.

The president has yet to be certified as virus-free by his medical team, but he was cleared to resume public engagements as of Saturday.

He is expected to make remarks around a “law and order” theme from a White House balcony to a crowd of hundreds on the lawn below.

Contagious

On Monday, Mr Trump plans a campaign rally in central Florida, a must-win state for his hopes of a second term.

Questions remain about whether Mr Trump, who announced on October 2nd he had the virus and spent three nights in a military hospital, is still contagious.

In an appearance on Fox News on Friday evening, Mr Trump said he was tested again for the virus but did not disclose the result.

He also said he had stopped taking medications to combat Covid-19. “I feel really strong,” he said.

Mr Trump and his administration have faced criticism for their handling of the pandemic, as well as for a lax approach to mask-wearing and social distancing in the White House and – in recent days – confusing messages about how ill the president has been.

Good luck. I wouldn’t show up unless you have a mask and can distance.

Mr Biden sharply criticized Mr Trump’s decision to resume campaigning: “Good luck. I wouldn’t show up unless you have a mask and can distance,” he told reporters in Paradise, Nevada.

A source familiar with the planning for the White House event said attendees were all expected to wear masks.

People at the Florida rally will be given a temperature check, masks that they will be encouraged to wear and access to hand sanitizer, the campaign said.

Mr Biden will travel on Saturday to the city of Erie in northwestern Pennsylvania, a state that Mr Trump narrowly took over Democrat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election.

Former Democratic President Barack Obama won the county in the two elections beforehand and Mr Biden, who was Mr Obama’s vice president, has made the region a top priority.

A Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll released earlier this week showed Mr Biden with a five-point edge over Mr Trump in Pennsylvania. The poll also had Mr Biden with a 10-point lead nationwide.

Senator Elizabeth Warren, who battled Mr Biden for the Democratic nomination, will campaign on his behalf on Saturday in another swing state – New Hampshire.

Ms Warren is popular with young progressive voters, some of whom have expressed skepticism toward Mr Biden.

Mr Trump and Mr Biden will campaign next week without having to prepare for a debate.

The Commission on Presidential Debates scratched the contest set for October 15th after Mr Trump said he would not participate.

The commission had shifted the face-to-face debate to a virtual one after his illness. The final debate, set for October 22nd, will go ahead as planned.

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