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Suzanne Lynch’s US Election Diary: Defiant Trump resumes campaigning in Florida

Anthony Fauci warns US president is ‘asking for trouble’ by holding large rallies

A defiant Donald Trump resumed campaigning last night with a rally in Florida, as infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci warned the US president was "asking for trouble" by holding large campaign events.

Thousands of people, many without masks, crowded into an airport hangar near Orlando to hear the president.  Mr Trump, who was not wearing a facemask during the event, warned his Democratic opponent, Joe Biden, would "replace the American dream with a socialist nightmare".

Reviving some of the greatest hits of his 2016 campaign, he warned about “radical socialists”, the “fake and corrupt press”, and “Sleepy Joe” Biden. “Crooked Hillary” also made a comeback, despite the fact he ran against her four years ago.

Commending the American people for how they handled the coronavirus he said: “It’s been an incredible lovefest together”, prompting shouts of “We Love You! We Love You!”


“These are the real polls,” he said as he gestured at the crowd, disputing the findings of recent opinion polls that put Mr Biden well ahead. At one moment, Mr Trump said he felt so powerful since his coronavirus treatment that “I’ll walk into that audience. I’ll walk in there and kiss everyone in the audience. I’ll kiss the guys and the beautiful women . . . I’ll just give you a big fat kiss.”

The rally is one of several the president intends to hold this week, despite warnings from Dr Fauci in a CNN interview last night that the president was “asking for trouble” by holding large-scale events.

Mr Biden, dismissed by Mr Trump as “not 100 per cent” at last night’s rally, will also campaign in Florida today, where he will outline his plans for over-65 voters – a key constituency in Florida, which appears to be breaking with Trump over his handling of Covid.

Meanwhile, the confirmation hearing for Amy Coney Barrett will resume today in Washington. Yesterday's events were pretty staid, as most of the time was allotted to opening statements from the 22 members of the Senate Judiciary Committee and Ms Barrett herself.

Dressed in a stylish magenta dress and donning a black facemask, the 48-year-old mother of seven promised to uphold the independence of the court if elected.

Utah senator Mike Lee surprised everyone by turning up in person in the committee room, despite testing positive for Covid after attending the "super-spreader" White House nomination ceremony for Ms Barrett ten days ago.

Vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris, during her opening statement, said the Senate confirmation process was "illegitimate".

"By replacing Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg with someone who will undo her legacy, President Trump is attempting to roll back Americans' rights for decades to come," she said.

Expect more fireworks today, when senators begin to question Mr Trump’s nominee.

On the campaign trail today

Mr Trump heads to Pennsylvania for his second campaign rally of the week. With 20 electoral college votes, it’s a must-win state, though polls show that Joe Biden is ahead. The former vice-president has home-state advantage, having been born and raised in Scranton in the northeast of the state.

Mr Biden is heading to Broward County Florida, just north of Miami, where he is due to deliver remarks on his “vision for older Americans”, according to his campaign. Seniors are a key constituency in the electorally important state, and there are growing signs that over-65s are deserting Mr Trump over his handling of the coronavirus.

The Trump brothers will also be out in force on Tuesday, with the president’s son Eric campaigning in Michigan and Donald jnr heading to Nebraska.

Jill Biden, spouse of the former vice president, will do a whistle-stop of Texas, visiting Dallas, Houston and El Paso where she will campaign with former senate candidate Beto O'Rourke, the high-profile former congressman who lost his senate race with Ted Cruz in 2018.

Quote of the day

Or rather the non-quote of the day. White House chief of staff Mark Meadows refused to talk to reporters on Capitol Hill yesterday after they asked him to wear a mask, stating he was standing well away. "I'm not going to talk through a mask," he said, and promptly walked away.

Recommended reads

My report today on Joe Biden's trip to Ohio on Monday.

Also, details of the first day of the Amy Coney Barrett hearings here.

A new New York Times/Siena College poll shows Biden leading Trump in the key battleground states of Michigan and Wisconsin. Trump won the traditionally Democratic states in 2016, but Biden is now ahead by eight points in Michigan, and ten in neighbouring Wisconsin.

I'm reporting from Arizona in today's Irish Times. A sizeable Hispanic population and an influx of new residents to the state are changing the political hue of this southwestern state. I spoke to one resident who was a Republican for 60 years, but is now backing Biden.