‘Can you imagine if you lose to a guy like this?’: Trump ignores polls and tells rally Biden 'is shot, folks'

President falsely tells coronavirus victims they are ‘immune for life’ a day after Dr Fauci said the opposite

John T. Bennett
Washington Bureau Chief
Thursday 15 October 2020 19:48 BST
Donald Trump on Joe Biden: 'He's shot, folks!'

Donald Trump ignored multiple polls showing him losing Pennsylvania to former Vice President Joe Biden as he said he cannot “imagine losing to a guy like this”.  

The president on Tuesday night used his second of six planned rallies by Friday night to again distort his record and that of his Democratic challenger, while ignoring medical experts by telling rally attendees who have had the coronavirus they are “immune for life.” His top infectious disease official, who has become one among a long list of Washington rivals, Anthony Fauci, said as recently as Monday that there are a large number of cases across the globe where coronavirus victims caught the disease a second time. He also repeatedly attacked his general election foe with just 21 days left before Election Day.  

But, again, gone was any coherent message on why he deserves a second term. Instead, the president’s closing argument is a mishmash of reheated tweets and questionable claims.

“They say he was born in Scranton, but he abandoned you,” the president told a rally crowd in Johnstown even though Mr Biden’s parents moved the family when he was a child. “Give me a break.”

The 74-year-old Mr Trump continued to paint the 77-year-old Mr Biden as too old and too senile to be president, contending he forgot on Monday in what city he was campaigning.  

“I’m running against the single-worst candidate in the history of American politics,” he said as the large crowd chuckled in unison. “Can you imagine if you lose to a guy like this?"

In a new attack line, Mr Trump called his rival “a bad guy." And in a shorter version of an old one, he called Mr Biden “a dummy.”

And he tried to tie Mr Biden to the most progressive wing of his party, saying the liberal bloc wants to “shame you” and “cancel you.”

"Biden has made a corrupt bargain exchange for his party’s nomination. He has handed control to the socialists and marxists and left wing extremists, like his Vice Presidential candidate.”

The president made a rather bold plea to one of the voting blocs he won in 2016 but lost two years later in congressional elections – and needs again in the right mix of states to secure another term.
“Suburban women, will you please like me?” he asked to cheers. “I saved your damn neighborhood.”

On his own coronavirus infection, the president said the experimental cocktail of antibody drugs and powerful steroids he got without noting it is not available to the over 7m Americans who have contracted the virus, a number experts say is much higher.

“I got antibodies,” he said before saying the mix of drugs his medical team gave to him made him “feel like Superman – I was like, ‘Let me at ’em’.”

He appeared to yet again downplay the virus, which has killed over 215,000 people in the United States: “I had it. And I’m here.”

Mr Trump said, if he wins, his administration will “crush the virus very quickly.” He did not explain why it has not done so already, however.

Rally participants seated behind him were mostly wearing “MAGA” masks handed out by his campaign. But photographers and C-SPAN cameras showed other rally-goers mostly skipped wearing a face covering even as the coronavirus is spreading again across the country.

‘Fill that seat!’

Mr Trump spoke before his supporters as Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett was still answering questions for senators on the second full day of her confirmation hearing.

On stage, the president called her a “great future Supreme Court justice,” as the crowd chanted loudly, “fill that seat!”

Though he and other conservatives have signalled they hope her expected confirmation will give them the 6-3 high court bend they need to terminate the 2011 Affordable Care Act known as “Obamacare” and possibly, in some form, strike down the landmark abortion rights case Roe v. Wade.

She did not take a hard stance on either, saying: “I'm not on a mission to destroy the Affordable Care Act." But on Roe, she appeared to show a card: “Roe is not a super precedent because calls for its over-ruling have never ceased.”

As Ms Barrett testified and did little, if anything, to frustrate GOP senators or conservative voters, Mr Trump fired off a tweet that might have annoyed both groups. “STIMULUS! Go big or go home!!!” he wrote of tepid talks between his aides and House Democrats about a fifth coronavirus relief package.

Mr Trump keeps insisting he wants a soup-to-nuts package with a large price tag even though House and Senate Republicans prefer a more limited bill, awkwardly putting the GOP president more aligned with the Democratic lawmakers with whom he has clashed for four years just weeks before an election that will decide his fate and control of the Senate.

The president hit the stage in Johnstown, a city in bright red Cambria County that he won with over 66 per cent of the vote. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton did not manage 30 per cent of the vote there four years ago.

The country lies in one of the Keystone State’s pockets of Trump Country: of the counties that border Cambria, Mr Trump garnered no less than 63.5 per cent of the vote and claimed 82.6 per cent in Bedford County – Ms Clinton got just over 15 per cent of votes there.

Biden pulls ahead

By choosing the southwestern Pennsylvania area, the president and his campaign team were again signalling they view their path to victory in the six or eight swing states that will determine the election built on a large turnout among Republican and far-right conservative voters.  

Election experts say the Keystone State’s 20 Electoral College votes could decide who is president come 20 January. One Democratic strategist recently told The Independent that Mr Biden appears to lack a road to the 270 Electoral votes needed to win without Pennsylvania in his column.

After Mr Trump pulled within 3.9 percentage points there on 21 September, Mr Biden has stretched his lead back to 7 points, according to RealClearPolitics’ average of several polls.

One former White House official says Mr Trump only has himself to blame for the former VP opening a wider lead in some key battleground and maintaining a double-digit advantage nationally.

“In the week following the first presidential debate, Joe Biden broke out to a 10-point lead against Donald Trump among registered voters. There’s no mystery about why this happened: the American people responded very negatively to the president’s conduct during the debate, which they regarded as unpresidential,” according to William Galston of the Brookings Institution, referring to the Ohio faceoff during which the president interrupted Mr Biden and moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News 145 times.

“Biden’s lead on presidential attributes such as honesty rose, as did the public’s evaluation of his ability to perform key presidential tasks,” the former Clinton White House adviser said. “Even the president’s once-formidable advantage as manager of the economy took a hit.”

The president, despite some infectious disease experts saying he still could be contagious, did not wear a mask on his second consecutive day on the campaign trail, after not doing so to or during a rally in Sanford, Florida. But, like Monday night, he appeared to be at least six feet away from any rally attendees.

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