Trump casts wide net in Labor Day press conference
President Trump used a wide-ranging and hastily arranged Labor Day press conference to attack Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on China, assert his popularity with U.S. troops and spar with reporters over his comments on a coronavirus vaccine.
Trump announced the press conference Monday morning, noting that “Jobs number, and the Economic comeback, are looking GREAT.”
The president blasted his Democratic opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden, and Biden’s running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), over comments Harris made saying she would not take Trump’s word on the efficacy of a coronavirus vaccine without assurances from top health officials.
Trump said Biden and Harris “should immediately apologize for the reckless anti-vaccine rhetoric that they are talking right now, talking about endangering lives.”
“It undermines science, and what happens is all of the sudden you’ll have this incredible vaccine and because of that fake rhetoric, it’s a political rhetoric … that’s all that is,” Trump said.
Trump administration officials have said they hope the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will approve a safe and effective vaccine by the end of the year, though some experts worry the FDA will be rushed in its work in order to boost Trump’s reelection prospects.
The president also said Biden is a “stupid person” whose “economic treachery” allowed China to excel ahead of the U.S.
“If Biden wins, China wins, because China will own this country,” Trump told reporters from North Portico of the White House, a rare venue for a presidential press conference. “Today’s Labor Day — it’s a good time to talk about where we’re being ripped off by countries, but nobody’s even close to China.”
Throughout the press conference Trump sparred with reporters, at one point telling Reuters’s Jeff Mason to take his mask off while asking a question. Mason, to Trump’s annoyance, refused.
Earlier Trump said the press “doesn’t want to talk about” the debunked claims that as vice president, Biden pushed for the ousting of a Ukrainian prosecutor to protect his son Hunter Biden’s business dealings.
“You should be ashamed of yourselves,” Trump told reporters.
Trump also used the press conference as an opportunity to brush off allegations made in an article published in The Atlantic on Thursday, which claimed he disparaged U.S. service members killed in World War I during a 2018 trip to France.
“Only an animal would say things like that,” Trump said.
Trump also accused Pentagon officials of wanting to “fight wars so that all of those wonderful companies that make the bombs and make the planes and make everything else stay happy.”
The president said that although top Defense officials are not “in love with me” he remains popular among servicemembers.
“Some people don’t like to come home, some people like to continue to spend money,” Trump said. “One cold-hearted globalist betrayal after another, that’s what it was.”
The Atlantic article also alleged that Trump did not want an official funeral or flags to be lowered after the late Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who was a critic of Trump, died in 2018.
Trump repeatedly said Monday that he was “not a fan” of McCain but denied the claims from the article.