'Running Angry': Trump Attacks Dr. Fauci, Press And Polls
President Donald Trump dances after speaking at a campaign rally at Prescott Regional Airport, Monday, Oct. 19, 2020, in Prescott, Ariz. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
An angry President Donald Trump came out swinging Monday against Dr. Anthony Fauci, the press and polls that show him trailing Democrat Joe Biden in key battleground states in a disjointed closing message two weeks out from Election Day.
- Associated Press
- Last Updated: October 20, 2020, 23:48 IST
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WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump shunned formal debate practice Tuesday and was heading instead for another of his big rallies, two days ahead of the final presidential debate that may be his last, best chance to alter the trajectory of the 2020 campaign. Democrat Joe Biden took the opposite approach, holing up for debate prep.
In the leadup to Thursday’s faceoff in Nashville, Trump is trailing in polls in most battleground states as he works to pull off a repeat of his come-from-behind victory of 2016. Also trailing in fundraising for campaign ads, Trump is increasingly relying on his signature campaign rallies to deliver a closing message to voters and maximize turnout among his GOP base.
Three weeks of wrangling over the debate format and structure appeared to have subsided Tuesday after the Commission on Presidential Debates unveiled a rules change meant to reduce the chaotic interruptions that plagued the first Trump-Biden encounter last month.
This time, Trump and Biden will each have his microphone cut off while his rival delivers an opening two-minute answer to each of the six debate topics, the commission announced. The mute button won’t figure in the open discussion portion of the debate.
Trump’s team is calling for a more in-depth focus on foreign policy in the debate, believing it to be a strong suit for the incumbent, but there is not expected to be any shift away from the announced topics, which include a segment devoted to national security.
Trump was holding a rally Tuesday evening in Erie, Pennsylvania, a part of the state instrumental in his victory four years ago, when he was the first GOP candidate since Ronald Reagan to carry the county. Before leaving the White House, he was taping an interview with CBS 60 Minutes and a town hall with local news conglomerate Sinclair that will air on Wednesday.
Before the debate, the president was grumbling that he’d be at a disadvantage to his challenger.
I just think its very unfair, Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One as he returned from Arizona on Monday evening. I will participate, but its very unfair that they changed the topics and its very unfair that, again, we have an anchor whos totally biased.
As Trump was on the road, Biden was huddling at his lakeside home in Wilmington, Delaware, with senior adviser Ron Klain, who is in charge of debate preparation. Also on hand: a group of aides that the campaign has purposely kept small to reduce the risk of spreading the coronavirus.
Biden, who taped his own interview with 60 Minutes on Monday at a theater near his home, has no public events on Tuesday or Wednesday and wasnt scheduled to travel except to the debate itself on Thursday. His running mate, California Sen. Kamala Harris was out campaigning, and he was expected to receive a late boost from former President Barack Obama, who was to host an event Wednesday in Philadelphia.
Biden is now tested about every two days for the coronavirus and has never been found to be positive. He suggested before last weeks planned second debate in Miami that the proceedings shouldnt happen if Trump was still testing positive for COVID-19 after contracting the virus earlier in the month.
The candidates instead held dueling town halls on separate networks after the commission said the debate should occur virtually, citing safety concerns, and Trump rejected the idea.
Biden has been tightlipped about his preparation for the Nashville debate, saying only that he has focused on watching Trumps past statements on key issues. Bidens advisers see the final debate as a chance to discuss foreign policy, which they, too, see as one of their candidates strengths. Biden has praised the Trump administration for helping to broker deals that the Gulf states of Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates signed recognizing Israel, but otherwise has accused the president of shunning allies and making foreign relations more volatile at most points around the globe.
The debate comes as Trump has used his closing message to voters to defend his handling of the coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 220,000 Americans and to attack his Democratic rival for pledging to heed the advice of scientific experts.
Trump insisted Tuesday that he gets along with Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease specialist, while also complaining on Fox & Friends that the doctor who has clashed with him at times over the coronavirus is not a team player.
A day earlier, Trump said on a call with campaign aides that People are tired of hearing Fauci and all these idiots,” adding of the doctor: Every time he goes on television, theres always a bomb. But theres a bigger bomb if you fire him. But Faucis a disaster.
___ Weissert reported from Wilmington, Delaware. AP writers Jill Colvin and Deb Riechmann in Washington contributed to this report.
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