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Friday 9 June 2023 Dublin: 11°C
# US Election
Donald Trump plans to hold a campaign rally in Florida on Saturday
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is preparing to unveil plans to probe the president’s capacity to govern after contracting Covid-19.

US PRESIDENT DONALD Trump has said that he hopes to resume campaigning tomorrow after receiving a green light from his doctor, even as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi prepares to unveil plans to probe the president’s capacity to govern after contracting Covid-19.

Trump indicated in an interview with Fox News that he is still testing positive for the disease, and said that another Covid-19 test is to be carried out today.

With just 26 days until the 3 November election, Washington’s top Democrat took the extraordinary step of proposing a commission to investigate Trump’s fitness for the job – and whether he needs removal under the Constitution’s 25th Amendment – which she will unveil in a bill today.

The move came after Trump spent the day ranting against critics and threw the debate schedule with Democrat Joe Biden into turmoil.

With tensions building over the president’s diagnosis and questions about his judgment, Trump said in a Fox News interview late last night that he wants to hold a campaign rally as early as tomorrow.

“I think I’m going to try doing a rally on Saturday night if we have enough time to put it together,” he said during an interview with Sean Hannity, adding that it would be “probably in Florida”.

Trump said that he might hold another rally the following day in Pennsylvania.

Earlier in the day Trump’s doctor gave him the green light to resume public activities this weekend.

“Saturday will be day 10 since Thursday’s diagnosis, and based on the trajectory of advanced diagnostics the team has been conducting, I fully anticipate the president’s safe return to public engagement at that time,” Conley said in a statement.

While Trump said he believed he was no longer contagious, concerns about infection appeared to scuttle plans for next week’s presidential debate – particularly as it’s not clear whether he has received a negative Covid-19 test.

The White House is continuing to decline to share when Trump last tested negative for the virus — which would help pinpoint when he was infected. Strategic communications director Alyssa Farah said that information was Trump’s “private medical history”.

Having been held back from campaigning, Trump raged on Fox Business television, insulting Biden’s running mate Kamala Harris as a “monster,” branding illegal immigrants “rapists,” and urging indictments of Biden and former president Barack Obama.

And in remarks that caught Pelosi’s attention, 74-year-old Trump quipped that he beat Covid because “I am a perfect physical specimen and I’m extremely young.”

Pelosi warned that Trump is suffering from a “disassociation from reality (that) would be funny if it weren’t so deadly.”

Senior House Democrat James Clyburn cautioned on CNN that Trump was exhibiting “very erratic behavior” that has drawn public concern. As they questioned the president’s claim to be rapidly recovering from Covid-19 and Pelosi announced her upcoming probe, Trump fired back on Twitter.

“Crazy Nancy is the one who should be under observation,” he wrote. “They don’t call her Crazy for nothing!”

Anxious times

Trump’s rejection of next week’s debate because organisers decided to go virtual due to his bout with Covid-19 upended the calendar of debates – usually a set series of three that candidates arrange well in advance.

After back and forth between Trump and Biden’s campaign, it appeared likely that only two debates will take place in total, with the next being 22 October and the one scheduled for Miami on 15 October now scrapped.

With Biden surging in opinion polls and able to travel – the veteran Democrat visited Arizona yesterday where he and Harris launched a campaign bus tour – these are anxious times for Trump.

He is still recovering from his three-night hospital stint, while the White House itself has become a viral hotspot, with dozens of people close to Trump testing positive.

Trump’s decision to boycott next week’s debate, which would have been in town hall format with audience members asking questions, will mean missing a rare opportunity to try and best Biden in a direct televised confrontation.

He accused organisers of trying to “protect” Biden after their angry first debate in Cleveland on 29 September. Campaign manager Bill Stepien called organisers “pathetic” and announced that a rally would be held instead.

At the Biden campaign, spokeswoman Kate Bedingfield accused Trump of not wanting “to face questions from the voters about his failures on Covid and the economy.”

Both camps agreed the next and probably final debate, on 22 October in Nashville, should be done in the town hall style.

Trump’s campaign called for a third debate taking place five days before the election but Biden’s side rejected this, saying “Trump’s erratic behavior does not allow him to rewrite the calendar.”

Bad polls, difficult message

While Trump said he beat Biden “easily” in their first debate, opinion polls showed the president in a lopsided loss.

Biden is currently forecast to beat Trump in several vital swing states, even threatening him in Republican strongholds like Texas.

And Trump’s personal fight with Covid-19 has thrown the spotlight back on an issue where polls find most voters see him as having failed.

The pandemic, which has claimed 212,000 American lives, has made it almost impossible for Trump to shift the campaign narrative back onto what he sees as more favorable territory: the economy, which was doing strongly before coronavirus hit early this year.

On Wednesday, Harris debated with Vice President Mike Pence and spent much of her time hammering Trump for his pandemic response, calling it “the greatest failure of any presidential administration in the history of our country.”

© – AFP 2020, with reporting from PA News

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