World

Dismissing ‘SuperSpreader’ charges, Trump boldly goes for an unprecedented White House rally

WASHINGTON: Indifferent to the perception that he hosted a Covid -19 superspreader event at the White House that also resulted in his own infection, US President Donald Trump has scheduled an even bigger gathering at the executive mansion grounds on Saturday evening, saying he now feels “very strong” and is medication free.
Some 2000 invitations are said to have gone out for an unprecedented rally on the South Lawns of the White House that will see Trump address them from the portico, a self-designed spectacle designed to showcase him as a strongman who overcame the Covid-19 infection in just 3-4 days and is unafraid of a virus that in his view is akin to flu.
Only mildly chastened by the White House outbreak that resulted in more than a dozen people in Trump’s inner circle catching the virus, invited Trump faithful have been asked to wear masks and will have to undergo temperature checks.
Ahead of the event, Trump spent several hours calling into various TV and radio shows on Friday to hold forth on a range of issues to credulous, pampering anchors who would not or could get him to answer whether he had tested negative for Covid following the top-line therapeutics and treatment he was administered.
“I haven’t even found out numbers or anything yet, but I’ve been retested and I know I’m at either the bottom of the scale or free,” Trump vaguely told Fox News’ medical analyst Dr. Marc Siegel, a physician who like Trump believes covid-19 is no big deal and masks are useless. “They test every couple of days, I guess, but it’s really at a level now that’s been great — great to see it disappear.”
Such an outlook is not going down well with the country’s seniors, the group most vulnerable to Covid-19, and who constitute a majority of the nearly 215,000 deaths. Polls and reports that indicate his Democratic challenger Joe Biden has about a 25 point lead among seniors.
Trump’s “reckless” personal conduct since his Covid-19 diagnosis is “unconscionable”, Biden, 77, chafed on Friday, asserting that the last thing the US needs is a president who ignores Americans and looks down upon them.
But Trump has decided to ignore what he sees as unremitting negativity from critics and experts, including the two coronavirus principals Dr Anthony Fauci and Dr Dr. Deborah Birx who held centerstage for months, and who continue to warn about the continued danger and lethality of the virus if established mandates and protocols are ignored. Covid-19 cases are on the rise again in the US – topping 50,000 each last three days, but death rates are coming down.
Trump’s decision to go bold on the matter – which some see as reckless – follows adverse reports coming in from early voting in the election. More than 6 million Americans have already voted in 27 states and data points to registered Democrats returning 1.4 million ballots, more than twice the 653,000 ballots registered Republicans have turned in. Some 3.7 million voter are either unaffiliated/independent or live in states that do not register voters by party.
Some modeling firms are projecting that Democrats are outvoting Republicans 3:2 in early voting, but the party is cautioning its rank and file workers not to be complacent because, among other things, Hillary Clinton also established such early leads in 2016, and the expectation is the Trump base will vote in-person more than Democrat voters.
Trump and his associates have also decided to bail out of debate with their Republican rivals, variously claiming the format, protocols, and moderates are loaded against them. The commission on Presidential Debates canned the second Presidential debate scheduled for October 15 after Trump said he did not like virtual format and would not participate. Separately, Trump confidant Lindsey Graham declined to take a Covid test demanded by his Democratic opponent in a senate race, resulting in the scrapping of their debate.

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