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Tuesday September 27, 2022

Trump restarts public speeches, Biden calls it ‘reckless’

By AFP
October 11, 2020

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump will give a public speech at the White House on Saturday for the first time since testing positive for Covid-19, as he prepares a rapid return to the campaign trail just three weeks before the election.

The 74-year-old commander-in-chief has also announced a Florida rally on Monday in an attempt to relaunch his stumbling reelection campaign against surging Democratic rival Joe Biden, who called the president’s behavior "reckless".

Seeking to project strength and improved health, Trump had refused to participate in next week’s scheduled debate after organizers shifted it to an online format out of coronavirus concerns.

On Friday the Commission on Presidential Debates made it official, saying next Thursday’s debate is scrapped, leaving an October 22 event the final Trump-Biden showdown before election day on November 3.

That prompted accusations of bias from Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh, who said "there is no medical reason to stop" the October 15 debate from proceeding.

Knocked off the campaign trail by his three-night hospitalization last week, the president is in the midst of a frenetic bid to catch Biden.

On Friday, during an extended media blitz, Trump falsely claimed that Covid-19 now has a cure.

He also revealed that he’d been told he was near death at the worst of his bout with the virus, which has killed more than 213,000 Americans and severely dented his chances of winning a second term.

Saturday’s speech, which a senior administration official said would be on Trump’s favoured theme of "law and order," will give him a chance to dispel lingering doubts about his health.

The crowd will be on the South Lawn of the White House, while the president will speak from the balcony.

A source with knowledge of the planning said all attendees will be required to wear masks and have their temperature checked.

On Monday, Trump will take another major step by holding a rally in a crucial battleground state.

"Will be in Sanford, Florida on Monday for a very big rally!" Trump tweeted.

The events come despite continued questions over how sick Trump was and how complete his recovery is now, with White House officials refusing to answer basic queries including when the president first contracted the virus and whether he has tested negative since.

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