Donald Trump held his first rally since being diagnosed with COVID-19 on Monday night, telling a mostly maskless crowd that he now has immunity from the disease.
“They say I’m immune – I feel so powerful. I’ll walk in there and kiss everyone. I’ll kiss the guys and the beautiful women, I’ll give you a big, fat kiss,” the president said at one point, referring to his own recovery.
BBC News reported that Trump also spoke about stock market growth, the establishment of the U.S. Space Force, and his successful confirmation of two conservative Supreme Court justices, as well as his nomination of a third, Judge Amy Coney Barrett, who faces the Senate this week. The crowd of thousands, few of whom were reportedly following social distancing guidelines, chanted “four more years” and “USA” at the rally outside Orlando.
It was great to be back in my home state of FLORIDA to make my official return to the campaign trail. I am energized by your prayers, humbled by your support, and absolutely determined to finish what we started and Make America Greater than Ever Before! pic.twitter.com/XrQG0KPdUo
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 13, 2020
Earlier in the day, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, told CNN that holding large rallies was “asking for trouble” and warned that Americans should be vigilant as coronavirus cases tick up in many parts of the country.
“We’ve seen that when you have situations of congregate settings where there are a lot of people without masks, the data speak for themselves. It happens. And now is even more so a worse time to do that, because when you look at what’s going on in the United States, it’s really very troublesome,” Fauci said.
Trump, 74, tested positive for COVID-19 on October 2 and was admitted to the hospital a day later. On Monday, his personal doctor, Dr. Sean Conley, disclosed that the president had tested negative on multiple days and that his medical team had concluded that he was no longer infectious to others.
His Democratic opponent, Joe Biden, is ahead in the polls by an average of 10.4 points as of Friday, according to FiveThirtyEight. Trump is also reportedly losing support from seniors, who are the most vulnerable demographic in a pandemic that, as of October, has killed more than 214,000 Americans.
Florida is a crucial state for Trump’s campaign: not only as an opportunity to regain support from its older population but also because he needs 270 electoral college votes to win the White House. Florida, with 29 votes in the electoral college, is one of the key states up for grabs, behind only California and Texas. Trump is visiting three other battleground states this week – Pennsylvania (with 20 electoral college votes), Iowa (six) and North Carolina (15).
Biden held his own campaign event on Monday, addressing a socially distanced crowd of car workers in their vehicles in Cincinnati. He is also scheduled to appear in Florida on Tuesday.