President Donald Trump made his first public appearance since he returned to the White House on Monday following his hospitalization for COVID-19. Whether he is still contagious though remains a mystery. The White House pointedly refused to release the results of Trump’s latest COVID-19 test before the event and the president himself refused to say when he was asked during a taped interview with Fox News on Friday night. “I’m feeling great,” the president said.
Trump appeared Saturday afternoon on the White House balcony wearing a mask but quickly took it off before he began speaking. Photos showed many of those in attendance were wearing masks, but it was hardly universal and there wasn’t any real social distancing. Even some White House advisers in the crowd didn’t wear masks.
With bandages visible on his hands, Trump spoke for 18 minutes, far shorter than his usual rallies and even less than the 30 minutes the White House had previewed. Though the White House had billed it as an official presidential event, Trump hit the usual points of his rallies and repeatedly attacked former Vice President Joe Biden. “We’ve got to vote these people into oblivion,” Trump said. The president spoke to around 300 to 400 people, including many who are part of a group called “Blexit,” which seeks to convince Black Americans, as well as members of other minority groups, to leave the Democratic Party. “Sleepy Joe Biden’s betrayed Black and Latino Americans,” Trump said.
Speaking of the coronavirus, Trump once again expressed optimism “our nation’s going to defeat this terrible China virus” and it would simply go away soon. “We’ll get rid of it all over the world. See big flare-ups in Europe, flare-up in Canada. You saw that today. A lot of flare-ups,” Trump said. “It is going to disappear. It is disappearing and the vaccines are going to help and the therapeutics are going to help a lot.”
Beyond the coronavirus, Trump spent a lot of time hitting on his usual law-and-order message. “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,’” Trump said.
Trump is scheduled to hold his first official campaign rally since the hospitalization on Monday in Sanford, Fla.