Trump uses Rose Garden event to attack Biden

President TrumpDonald John TrumpJoe Arpaio loses bid for his old position as sheriff Trump brushes off view that Russia denigrating Biden: 'Nobody's been tougher on Russia than I have' Trump tees up executive orders on economy but won't sign yet MORE had been speaking for nearly an hour on Tuesday in the Rose Garden, where the 90-degree heat was beating down on reporters who listened as he levied attack after attack against Joe BidenJoe BidenDemocratic convention lineup to include Ocasio-Cortez, Clinton, Warren: reports Whitmer met with Biden days before VP announcement: report Maxine Waters says Biden 'can't go home without a Black woman being VP' MORE, when he glanced up at the journalists seated in front of him.

“We could go on for days,” Trump said.

Trump used the famous White House setting for what amounted to a pseudo-campaign speech, going after his likely opponent in November at length over his past stances on China and his campaign platform on climate change, immigration, the economy and more.

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“There's probably never been a time when candidates are so different,” Trump said repeatedly, framing himself as the candidate of law and order.

Trump said Tuesday he doesn’t view himself as the underdog in the contest against presumptive Democratic nominee Biden, arguing that he’s doing better than polls suggest and that he’s confident a “silent majority” of Americans will send him to a second term in office.

“No, I don’t [think I’m the underdog],” Trump said in response to a question. “I think we have really good polls in the race. They’re not suppression polls. They’re real polls. You look at Florida. You look at the lakes. You see thousands of boats with Trump signs, American signs. You’ve got the Trump-Pence sign all over. You look at bikers for miles and miles riding up highways proudly with their signs. Look, we won a race where it was the same thing in 2016. We had polls that were fake.”

The polls show Biden opening up a wide lead nationally. Biden also leads in the core six battleground states of Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Florida, North Carolina and Arizona. And Biden is running strong in states Trump is expected to win, such as Texas, Georgia, Ohio and Iowa, creating fears among Republicans that they will lose both the White House and the Senate in November.

The president on Tuesday said he believes the polls are skewed because many of his supporters are afraid to tell pollsters they support him over fears of backlash from their friends, relatives and co-workers.

“The enthusiasm now is greater and maybe far greater than it was in 2016,” Trump said. “I think a lot of people don’t want to talk about it. They don’t want to say, ‘I’m for Trump.’ They don’t want to go through the process, and I fully understand that because the process is not fair. The media doesn’t treat us fairly. They never have, and they never will ... but I think we’re doing very well in the polls, and I think you have a silent majority the likes of which this country has never seen before.”

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Some pollsters have talked about a “social desirability bias” in surveys, where “shy” Trump voters are too embarrassed to tell pollsters they support the president. Republicans have also made the case that likely voter models used by pollsters do not take into account those who voted for the first time in 2016 and supported Trump.

But those claims are difficult to quantify or prove. In several battleground states, Biden has built up a lead that is outside the margin of error, giving analysts confidence that the Democrat is the clear favorite to win the White House, at least at the moment.

Trump’s remarks came during a question and answer session in the Rose Garden after Trump launched into an harangue in which he said that Biden had been co-opted by the “radical left” and warned that the Democrat would go easy on China, make it easier for illegal immigrants to cross the border and implement liberal policies he said would devastate the economy.

The White House announced the event on Tuesday afternoon just before Biden took the stage in Delaware to unveil a $2 trillion policy focused on addressing climate change. The former vice president’s speech was carried live by all the major cable networks, and Trump, who is prone to watching television, had no public events on his schedule at the time.

Trump spent the first few minutes announcing new action against China for its crackdown on Hong Kong. What followed was a nearly hourlong address that resembled one of his meandering campaign speeches that left some onlookers wondering if the president was recycling his remarks from a planned New Hampshire rally that was postponed.

The president unloaded on his presumptive opponent in the November election, accusing him of being soft on China and of failing to accomplish some of the things he has criticized the current administration over.

“[Biden] didn’t do any of the things, but now he says ... as president he’s going to do all the things he didn’t do,” Trump said. “He never did anything except make very bad decisions, especially on foreign policy.”

The speech was a remarkable use of the Rose Garden, a setting where presidents frequently host foreign leaders and sign major legislation. While the Hatch Act prohibits White House officials from engaging in campaigning in their official capacity, it does not apply to the president.

The president had Biden quotes printed out on sheets of paper that he pulled from his suit coat pocket. Among the topics covered were Biden’s views on China, the Obama administration’s response to the swine flu, school choice, criminal justice reform, immigration and climate policy.

Trump at one point name-dropped Hunter Biden, the former vice president’s son and a central figure in the president’s impeachment trial earlier this year.

“Where is Hunter, by the way?” Trump said. 

The Biden campaign issued a press release as Trump spoke accusing the president of “trying to rewrite his miserable history… of caving to President Xi and the Chinese government." It later issued a statement tearing into Trump over the substance and setting of his remarks.

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“What we heard in the Rose Garden today wasn't a president at all. It was a politician who sees his re-election slipping away from him and who is furious that his own botched response to the coronavirus pandemic has denied him the campaign events he so craves," Biden communications director Kate Bedingfield said. "The American taxpayer should be reimbursed for the abuse of funds this spectacle represented."

Trump has been sidelined from holding the large-scale campaign rallies where he typically sounds off on his opponents due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 135,000 people in the U.S. The president briefly mentioned the topic on Tuesday, mostly to bemoan what he said was unfair media coverage of his administration’s response.

In lieu of the rallies, Trump has sought to use White House events to reset his campaign efforts. He frequently uses such gatherings to knock Democrats and Biden in particular, and he teased near the conclusion of Tuesday’s lengthy appearance that he may hold similar events moving forward.

“We’ll be having these conferences again,” Trump said, swiveling a short time later and returning to the Oval Office after taking questions from four reporters.

Updated at 8:46 p.m.