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VOL. 44 | NO. 41 | Friday, October 9, 2020

On radio, TV, Trump sets out to get campaign back on track

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WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump set out to get his campaign back on track Friday, a week after he was sidelined by the coronavirus that has killed more than 210,000 Americans.

As questions linger about his health, Trump began speaking directly to voters on the radio less than four weeks from Election Day, and he eyed a return to travel as soon as Monday. The president has not been seen in public — other than in White House-produced videos — since his return days ago from the military hospital where he received experimental treatments for the virus.

Trump on Friday held what his campaign billed as a "radio rally" as he dialed in to the show of conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh for two hours. Holding court on his reelection battle, his fight against the coronavirus and revived negotiations with Democrats to pass an economic stimulus bill, Trump was making a direct appeal to his base of loyal supporters, whom he needs to turn out to the polls in droves. He was to follow that with a taped appearance for Tucker Carlson's Fox News show Friday evening.

While concerns about infection appeared to scuttle plans for next week's presidential debate, Trump said he believes he's no longer contagious.

"My voice is now perfect," he told Limbaugh.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government's top infectious disease expert, said in an Associated Press interview Friday, "Let me just tell you what the CDC guidelines are for getting people to be able to go back into society. It generally is 10 days from the onset of your symptoms."

That onset for Trump was Oct. 1, according to his doctors. The president's White House doctor, Navy Cmdr. Sean Conley, said that means Trump, who has been surrounded by minimal staffing as he works out of the White House residence and the Oval Office, could return to holding events on Saturday.

He added that Trump was showing no evidence of his illness progressing or adverse reactions to the aggressive course of therapy he has received.

While reports of reinfection in COVID-19 victims are rare, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that even people who recover from the disease continue to wear masks, stay distanced and follow other precautions. It was unclear if Trump, who has refused mask wearing in most settings, would abide by that guidance.

In the interview with Limbaugh, Trump again credited the experimental antibody drug he received last week with speeding his recovery.

"I was not in the greatest of shape," he said. "A day later I was fine." He promised to expedite distribution of the drug to Americans in need, though that would require action by the Food and Drug Administration.

He speculated to Limbaugh that without the drug, "I might not have recovered at all." However, there is no way to know how the drug affected his progression with the virus.

Despite public and private surveys showing him trailing Democrat Joe Biden, Trump predicted a greater victory in 2020 than four years ago. He won a majority in the Electoral College in 2016, though he lost the national popular vote to Democrat Hillary Clinton.

As for economic aid to businesses and individuals harmed by the pandemic, he said, "I would like to see a bigger stimulus package frankly than either the Democrats or the Republicans are offering." He made that comment just days after calling off talks with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi "until after the election" because the GOP balked at the high price tag of the aid she was calling for.

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