SANFORD, Florida (AP) — Defiant as ever about the coronavirus, President Donald Trump on Monday turned his first campaign rally since contracting COVID-19 into a full-throated defense of his handling of the pandemic that has killed 215,000 Americans, joking that he was healthy enough to plunge into the crowd and give voters “a big fat kiss.”
There was no social distancing and mask-wearing was spotty among the thousands who came to see Trump’s return to Florida. He held forth for an hour, trying to get his struggling campaign back on track with just weeks left before Election Day.
Though he was hospitalized battling the virus only a week ago, Trump’s message on COVID-19 was unaltered since his diagnosis: a dubious assessment that the pandemic was just about a thing of the past. Hundreds of people in the U.S. continue to die of the virus every day.
“Under my leadership, we’re delivering a safe vaccine and a rapid recovery like no one can even believe,” Trump insisted. “If you look at our upward path, no country in the world has recovered the way we have recovered.”
His voice was perhaps a touch scratchy but otherwise, Trump was, well, Trump.