Trump rallies supporters at White House in first event since COVID-19 diagnosis
President Trump rallied his supporters at the White House on Saturday in the first public event he’s held since he was diagnosed with COVID-19.
In an event the White House dubbed a “peaceful protest” on “law & order,” the president repeated some of his usual talking points in a speech that lasted just more than 15 minutes, touting his support for law enforcement and hammering Democrats for nationwide demonstrations over systemic racism and police brutality.
“The homes and churches and businesses of Black and Hispanic Americans have been looted. You know that. They’ve been vandalized and burned by left-wing fanatics, total bad people. They know what they’re doing. Yet Biden likes to call them ‘peaceful protesters,’” he added, referring to Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.
Trump has sought to woo Black and Hispanic voters away from Biden this election cycle. The former vice president has polled extremely well with Black Americans both in the Democratic primary and in the polls for the Nov. 3 election, though marginal decreases could impact his standing in some key swing states.
The speaking event was organized by conservative activist Candace Owens, who leads the BLEXIT movement and has centered her activism around pushing voters of color to leave the Democratic Party.
Trump has previously railed against nationwide unrest sparked after the police killing in late May of George Floyd in Minneapolis. The police killings of several other Black Americans, including Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Ky., have added to nationwide calls for police reform and racial justice.
“Black and Latino Americans are rejecting the radical socialist left, and they’re embracing our pro-jobs, pro-worker, pro-police — we want law and order; we have to have law and order — and pro-American agenda,” he said to cheers.
He has assailed Black Lives Matter as “an extreme socialist” movement and stood firmly with local police departments.
The president has looked to expand his appeal to people of color by touting record low unemployment rates for Black and Hispanic Americans before the coronavirus struck.
The president mentioned his Platinum Plan, which was unveiled last month and includes platforms such as making Juneteenth a federal holiday and prosecuting the Ku Klux Klan as a terrorist organization.
The plan will “bring back new jobs, like at a level that you’ve never seen before … increase capital, increase money coming into the Black community, into the Hispanic community,” Trump said Saturday.
Trump also promoted the administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, boasting confidence that the country would effectively handle the health impacts of the virus and recover economic gains that were lost.
“I want you to know our nation’s going to defeat this terrible China virus, as we call it. We are producing powerful therapies and drugs, and we’re healing the sick, and we’re going to recover,” he said, adding that a vaccine will be released in “record time.”
“We had it going, and we really had it going, and then the plague came in from China, but we’re getting rid of that, and we’re rebuilding it, and it’s going to be better than it even was before,” he continued.
Notably, Trump did not mention ongoing stimulus talks between Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. Trump himself has played a role upending the talks with erratic messaging, announcing earlier this week that he was canceling negotiations before offering a $1.8 trillion package and telling Pelosi and Mnuchin to “go big.”
Saturday’s rally took place behind backdrop of questions and concerns over Trump’s health and his ability to spread the disease to others. It is unclear if the president is still contagious, and the White House has refused to divulge when he last tested negative for the virus.
Trump and first lady Melania Trump were diagnosed with the coronavirus late last Thursday, and the following day, the president was taken to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for treatment.
There, he received multiple forms of treatment including supplemental oxygen, an antibody cocktail, a strong steroid and the antiviral drug Remdesivir.
The president was released from Walter Reed on Monday evening, and since then has been vocal about his health status, releasing several videos to Twitter saying that he feels “great” from various parts of the White House.
White House physician Sean Conley said in a memo Thursday that Trump would be able to make a “safe return” to public events by Saturday, which marks 10 days since Trump’s diagnosis, and that he has responded “extremely well” to his treatment for COVID-19.
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