‘I’ll kiss the guys and the beautiful women’: Trump says he feels ‘powerful’ at first rally since Covid infection

President tells loyalists he intends to give all Americans ‘whatever the hell they gave me’ while hospitalised with coronavirus 

John T. Bennett
Washington Bureau Chief
Tuesday 13 October 2020 07:20 BST
Trump says he will 'kiss the guys and the beautiful women' at Florida rally
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Donald Trump, showing no visible signs of the coronavirus that sidelined him for over a week, returned to the campaign trail on Monday night declaring himself "powerful" and suggesting he might "kiss everyone" in attendance at a Florida rally.

The president appeared on top of his campaigning game and thrilled to be back in front of a large crowd as he warned about the MS-13 gang, contended Democrats want to install a socialist government and continued to downplay the virus that required him to take supplemental oxygen and experimental drugs not available to or affordable for most Americans. He spoke of “law and order,” and charged Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden with being anti-police and controlled by the progressive wing of his party just 22 days before Election Day. 

"They say I'm immune – I feel so powerful," he said outside an airport hangar in Sanford. "I'll walk in there and kiss everyone."

"I'll kiss the guys and the beautiful women," Mr Trump added, despite his history of sexual assault allegations. "I'll give you a big, fat kiss."

The president returned to the campaign trail and made his first trip outside Washington since being hospitalized and given both supplemental oxygen and a costly cocktail of drugs not available to most Americans.

He has other rallies planned this week in Pennsylvania, Iowa and North Carolina. A senior campaign adviser said on Monday the president wants his staff to add more so he can be on the campaign trail perhaps every day until the election – including with multiple rallies a day.

"It's great to be back," he said as the crowd chanted "U-S-A!" before he promised to get Americans "whatever the hell they gave me" while hospitalised for parts of four days with his own coronavirus infection.

The virus was not a major focus of his mostly off-the-cuff remarks, as he again downplayed it.

C-SPAN cameras caught a section of VIPs that included Florida GOP Governor Ron DeSantis and Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz. No one in that area was wearing a mask.

Mr Trump dove into the so-called culture wars early on, contending Mr Biden and Democrats want to turn the United States into “Communist Cuba” or “socialst Venezuela,” adding: “We have to take care of our people first.”

“We’re not letting the cancel culture us at all,” he said of Democrats. “We’re proud of our country, and proud of our heritage.” He tried to tie his opponent to former Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, saying to boos: “Biden was a big lover of Castro, you know that, right?”

“Biden would annihilate Florida’s economy with a … draconian lockdown,” he said, referring to the former VP’s pledge to order a second national shutdown, should he win, if he determines that would help stop a deadly virus spread.

Maskless POTUS

The president hit the stage in Sanford in central Florida in search of the Sunshine State’s 29 Electoral College votes. He won the state in 2016 and must hold it to secure a second term.

After Mr Trump led in his new home state for much of the year, though narrowly, Mr Biden has opened a 3.7 percentage point lead, according to RealClearPolitics’ average of several polls.

The president, despite some infectious disease experts saying he still could be contagious, did not wear a mask when he boarded Air Force One after taking his motorcade to Joint Base Andrews due to bad weather. He also did not wear a mask when he walked on stage in Sanford, though he appeared to be beyond the six-feet buffer distance experts say keeps one person safe from another person’s potentially infected saliva spray.

As Mr Trump was being driven to the airport, Anthony Fauci, the country’s top infectious disease expert, told CNN there have been some “well-known cases” of Covid-positive people catching the respiratory disease again. Yet, Mr Trump contends, without he or his medical team providing support, that he is “immune” from the virus.

Mr Trump spent much of his day live-tweeting the first of three days of confirmation hearings for his third conservative Supreme Court nominee, federal Judge Amy Coney Barrett, and taking shots at Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.

“Sleepy Joe Biden had a particularly bad day today. He couldn’t remember the name of Mitt Romney, said again he was running for the US Senate, and forgot what State he was in. If I did any of this, it would be disqualifying. With him, he’s just Sleepy Joe!” he wrote in one social media post.

Dancing Donald

The president also appeared to suggest his opponent has contracted coronavirus.

“So Biden is coughing and hacking and playing ‘fingers’ with his mask, all over the place, and the Fake News doesn’t want to even think about discussing it,” he wrote. “‘Journalism’ has reached the all time low in history. Sadly, Lamestream knows this and doesn’t even care!”

With Democrats focused on Ms Barrett’s hearings, the president was not under the gun about his infection or rush back to the campaign scene. As he pivoted back into rally mode, he vowed to “rebuild the greatest economy in history.”

“No country in the world has recovered the way we’ve recovered,” he contended hours after Mr Fauci warned Covid-19 cases are rising at alarming levels in the Sun Belt, Rust Belt and Pacific Northwest regions. “Not even close.”

A few minutes later, Mr Trump wrapped his comeback rally with a jig: he danced after ending his remarks to the song “Y-M-C-A” before heading back to Air Force One.

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