Tucson, Arizona. (AP) – Angry President Donald Trump has come out swinging against Dr. Anthony Fauci, the press and opinion polls show he lags behind Democrat Joe Biden in key battlefields in an inseparable closing statement two weeks before election day.
On the third day of the turn of Western campaigns, Trump was under intense pressure to reverse his campaign, hoping for the last-minute leap that gave him victory from behind four years ago. But his inconsistent message, another rise in coronavirus cases and his attacks on experts like Fauci could undermine his latest efforts to reach out to voters outside his most loyal base.
Trump’s aggressive journey comes as he plays in defense in the states he won four years ago, although the Republican president has insisted he is confident as he follows a busy schedule despite the pandemic..
“We will win,” he told campaign staff during a morning call from Las Vegas. He further admitted that he “would not have told you that maybe two or three weeks ago”, referring to the days when he was hospitalized with COVID-19. But he said he now feels better than at any time in 2016. “We are in the best shape we have ever been,” he said.
In an effort to boost the morale of his staff amid growing private fears that his time is running out to make up for lost ground, Trump has said his government’s scientific experts are too negative, even as he tackles the pandemic that killed him. more than 220,000 people in the United States, remains a central issue for voters.
“People are tired of listening to Foki and all these idiots,” Trump said of the government’s best infectious disease expert. “Every time he goes on TV, there is always a bomb. But there is a bigger bomb if you fire him. But Fautsi is a disaster. “
During a rally in Prescott, Arizona, Trump attacked Biden for vowing to heed the advice of scientific experts, saying contemptuously that his rival “wants to listen to Dr. Fauci.”
The doctor is both respected and popular, and Trump’s rejection of scientific advice on the pandemic has already drawn bipartisan condemnation.
During the rally, Trump stepped up his attacks on the news media, citing NBC’s Kristen Welker, moderator of the next presidential debate, and CNN for aggressively covering a pandemic that now infects tens of thousands of Americans every day.
In an interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes” aired Sunday, Fauci said he was not surprised that Trump contracted the virus after a series of major events with little facial coverage.
“I was worried he would get sick when I saw him in a completely precarious situation, crowded, with no separation between people and almost no one wearing a mask,” Fauci told the president.
Biden disappeared from the campaign on Monday, but his campaign praised Fautzi and criticized Trump for “reckless and careless leadership” that “threatens to put more lives at risk.”
“Trump’s final message in the final days of the 2020 race is to publicly mock Joe Biden for trusting science and to call on Dr. Fautsi, a senior public health officer at COVID-19,” disaster “and idiots of other public health officials”, said the campaign.
Confidence in Monday’s victory was contrasted with some of Trump’s other public comments in recent days, reflecting the prospect of losing.
“Can you imagine if I lost my whole life?” What am I going to do? “He asked the crowd last week in Macon, Georgia.” I’m not going to feel so good. Maybe I’ll have to leave the country. I don’t know. “
Biden, meanwhile, was in Delaware for several days of preparation ahead of Thursday’s final presidential debate. His accomplice, California Sen. Kamala Harris, returned to the campaign in a few days in Washington after a close adviser tested positive for coronavirus.
Late Monday, the non-partisan presidential debate committee announced that Trump and Biden would have their microphone muted in Thursday’s debate, while his rival would give his initial two-minute response to each of the six debate topics.
The changes in the rules come three weeks after the chaotic discovery between the two presidential candidates, in which there were frequent breaks – most often by Trump. The open discussion part of the debate will not include a mute button, but breaks from any of the candidates will be counted for their time.
The commission is facing pressure from Trump’s campaign to avoid changing the rules, while Biden’s team hopes for a more orderly debate. In a statement, the commission said it “considered it appropriate to adopt measures aimed at promoting compliance with the agreed rules and inappropriate changes to those rules”.
Trump’s campaign has said he will participate in the debate, despite fears about the new rule.
“I just think it’s very unfair,” Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One when he returned from Arizona. “I will participate, but it is very unfair that they changed the subject and it is very unfair that we again have an anchor that is completely biased.”
In addition to the public consultation, which shows that Biden has an advantage, the former vice president enjoys another significant advantage: money.
In the last four months, Biden has raised more than $ 1 billion, a huge amount of money that has significantly overshadowed Trump’s once huge monetary advantage.
This is evident in the ad, where Biden and his Democratic allies are willing to spend twice as much as Trump and Republicans in the final days of the race, according to data from the ad tracking company Kantar / CMAG.
“We have more than enough air coverage, almost three times more than in 2016,” said Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien, who insisted that Trump has the upper hand with the campaign’s field staff and data targeting.
Although Trump withdrew from ads in the Midwest that secured his victory in 2016, he is investing heavily elsewhere, including North Carolina, where he is on track to slightly surpass Biden.
Concerns about a possible loss to Biden, which have been pouring into the world in recent days, have intensified behind the scenes of Trump’s campaign. Trump himself has alternated distrust and anger at the idea that he could lose to a candidate he considers washed and incompetent, according to three campaign officials and the White House, who are not allowed to speak publicly in private.
Trump directed his anger at media coverage, but also spoke of his chief of staff, Mark Meadows, whom he blames for improper hospital treatment for the virus and talks to alleviate COVID-19.
He asked some of his closest advisers if an election campaign needed to be shaken, officials said. The president was encouraged to stay on track, which is so close to election day.
Aides, meanwhile, have begun to wonder if Trump’s campaign rallies, which have helped shape U.S. policy over the past five years, have been in their final days.
In recent weeks, meanwhile, some White House staff offices have also tried to rotate as assistants who have never flown on Air Force One or have done so infrequently to be able to do so before election day.
___ Miller reports from Washington. Associated Press authors Will Weissort of Wilmington, Delaware, Jonathan Lemire of New York and Brian Slodisco of Washington contributed to this report.