Economy

White House rally: Trump to hold first public event since Covid diagnosis – BBC News

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Media captionDonald Trump took off his mask as he prepared to address his supporters on the lawn below

Donald Trump has delivered a speech in front of cheering supporters at the White House in his first public appearance since being hospitalised.

The event was officially a “peaceful protest”, but looked, critics said, much like a Trump campaign rally.

The president, who says he is no longer taking medicines against Covid-19, told the crowd he was “feeling great”.

The White House has not provided an update on the president’s health since Thursday.

It is unclear whether the president remains contagious following his three-day hospital stay with Covid-19.

Joe Biden’s campaign said the Democratic candidate had tested negative for the coronavirus on Saturday, ahead of a planned campaign trip to Pennsylvania.

Polling suggests Mr Biden has a single-digit lead over Mr Trump and an ABC News/Ipsos poll found that just 35% of Americans approved of how Mr Trump has handled the coronavirus crisis.

More than 210,000 Americans are known to have died of Covid-19.

What did Mr Trump say at the White House event?

Saturday’s White House gathering was partly organised by a foundation called “Blexit”, which aims to get black and Latino voters to support the Republican party.

The president, who was not wearing a mask, railed against Mr Biden, describing the Democrat’s programme as “beyond socialism – Communist, that’s about right”. Mr Biden is generally considered to be a moderate Democrat.

Mr Trump repeated his previous assertion that he had done more for the black community than any president since Abraham Lincoln – a claim the BBC has previously fact-checked.

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Reuters

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While most in the crowd were wearing masks there appeared to be little social distancing

While Mr Biden appears ahead in national polling, US presidential elections are in practice determined in key states where both candidates stand a chance of winning, rather than by the total number of votes won – as Hillary Clinton found to her cost in 2016.

The president’s campaign team says he is planning to attend a “big rally” in Florida – a battleground state in next month’s presidential election – on Monday, followed by trips to Pennsylvania and Iowa.

Mr Biden expressed disbelief at the president’s plans to hold rallies and criticised the Trump administration’s lax stance on mask use as reckless.

“I wouldn’t show up unless you have a mask and can distance,” Mr Biden said, speaking while campaigning in Las Vegas on Friday.

What is the latest on the president’s health?

Mr Trump told Fox News that he was feeling “really, really strong” and was no longer on medication, having had his “final doses of just about everything”.

On Thursday the president’s doctor Sean Conley said that it would be safe for him to return to public engagements on Saturday [10 October] as that would mark “day 10” since his diagnosis on Thursday 1 October.

Following his diagnosis, Mr Trump spent three nights in hospital and was treated with the steroid dexamethasone, the antiviral drug remdesivir and a cocktail of manufactured antibodies made by the company Regeneron.

The CDC recommends self-isolation for at least 10 days after coronavirus symptoms first appear, with more severe illness, such as that requiring hospital treatment, potentially needing up to 20 days.

What about the debates?

Next week’s second presidential debate between Mr Trump and Mr Biden has been officially cancelled.

The Commission on Presidential Debates said in a statement on Friday that both campaigns had announced “alternate plans for that date”.

Mr Trump had baulked at a request from the commission to hold the 15 October showdown virtually to minimise the risk of spreading coronavirus.

The commission, which is a non-partisan body in charge of organising the general election debates, said it was still making arrangements for the third and final presidential debate in Nashville, Tennessee, on 22 October. 

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Reuters

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Joe Biden spent Friday campaigning in Nevada

The Trump campaign said the commission was “biased” towards Mr Biden, while the Democrat’s team accused the president of ducking the debate.

Meanwhile House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the most powerful Democrat in Washington, on Friday announced legislation to establish a commission to assess a president’s fitness for office.

Mrs Pelosi said it was not meant to rule on Mr Trump’s condition. In any case, any serious consideration of the measure before the election is unlikely.

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