But the restraint that Trump showed on Thursday night in an unusually muted speech accepting the renomination of his party had vanished by the time he touched down in Londonderry, New Hampshire, Friday night where he told supporters — who were not socially distanced and booed when the public address announcers asked them to wear masks — that he felt free to “wing it.”
“Joe Biden is coming out of the basement, because the poll numbers have totally swung — they’ve totally swung,” Trump said, mocking Biden’s announcement Thursday that he would be resuming campaign events after Labor Day. “Sleepy Joe is coming out. … Ten days! That’s like an eternity in Trumpville.”
He told the crowd he’d like to see the first woman president, “but I don’t want to see a woman president get in to that position the way she’d do it” and “she’s not competent,” he said, suggesting his daughter instead: “They’re all saying, ‘We want Ivanka.’ I don’t blame you.”
“We’re going to win,” Trump told the crowd outside an airplane hangar. “Does anybody have any doubt?”
But there is. In fact, doubt remains about whether American voters will buy what the President and Republicans tried to sell at their convention this week — a whitewashed version of Trump’s slow and inadequate response to a pandemic that has killed more than 180,000 people and infected more than 5.9 million, and Trump’s ludicrous claim that he has done more for Black Americans than any president since Abraham Lincoln.
During the Democratic National Convention a week earlier, Biden and Democrats asked American voters to take a harder look at the toll of the nation’s three coinciding crises: from the United States’ unenviable position as the leader in coronavirus cases around the globe; to the more than 22 million jobs lost during the subsequent economic shutdown; to the chaos and divisiveness of Trump’s presidency, which has unfolded in the midst of a national reckoning over systematic racism and police brutality.
Biden promised to lead voters out of the current moment of darkness back into the light and to a sense of normalcy, while accusing Trump of creating a climate of fear and shirking the responsibilities of his office while stoking hate and division. In his convention speech, he said Trump had failed in his “most basic duty” to the nation: “He has failed to protect us.”
Biden has held a double digit lead over Trump throughout the summer as the President’s poor approval ratings on the coronavirus and race relations created a strong drag on his numbers. But there are signs that the race is tightening and that the economy is recovering at a faster clip than economists initially expect. As Trump routinely points out, retail sales recently hit a record high and the stock market has also been surging.
With scientists and epidemiologists still advising Americans to avoid crowds in order to limit infection — warnings that Trump mocked at his event Friday night — the former vice president has not been running a particularly vigorous campaign in terms of in-person interactions, relying instead on social media, advertising and virtual events to connect with voters.
Though Biden plans to step up his events in battleground states, some Democrats are worried that he could lose his edge as Trump touches off a robust schedule of campaigning to remind Americans that the economy was roaring before the pandemic hit, while rewriting history on his response to the virus.
In Londonderry Friday night, he suggested that China might have unleashed the virus on purpose. He also said that his administration “saved millions of lives” by banning foreign nationals from China from entering the United States in January and shutting down the economy for several weeks.
“We could have had 2 million,” he said, presumably referring to lives lost. “We did everything right.”
“Biden wants to do a blanket shutdown,” Trump claimed, adding that such a move would lead to suicides, alcoholism and other afflictions.
He said the United States would have a great year next year “unless somebody stupid gets elected and raises your taxes.”
Trump tries to do damage control on race
The emphasis on appealing to Black voters during the convention this week was an acknowledgement from…