President Donald Trump kept up his full-bore cross-country campaign swing with a Sunday rally in New Hampshire where he mocked social distancing guidelines even as the White House battled a coronavirus outbreak on Mike Pence’s staff.
Just minutes into his speech, Trump began tearing into ‘sleepy Joe’ Biden, who he ridiculed for calling an early ‘lid’ rather than going out to contact voters Sunday.
‘The guy has more lids …’ Trump said.
‘I was told in New Hampshire you can’t have big crowd,’ Trump said in his speech at an outdoor airport venue in Londonderry.
‘You have to go to everyone’s dining room and have dinner with them,’ he quipped.
He talked up his busy schedule of campaign rallies. ‘I’m doing three or four of these suckers a day. That’s not bad. And he’s got the lid on.’
‘But now with the COVID what do we do? They keep talking about cases,’ Trump said. ‘You know why we talk about cases? It’s all we do is tests.’
He made fun of Biden’s socially distanced events, including a ‘drive-in’ rally featuring former President Obama.
‘They don’t show Biden’s crowd when seven people show up,’ Trumps aid while complaining about the media. ‘And you know what? They don’t show Barack Hussein Obama’ – Trump said, using Obama’s middle name as he did repeatedly in recent days.
‘He drew flies. Did you ever hear the expression? Obama drew flies. But they don’t show that.’
As the U.S. had nearly 80,000 cases for the second consecutive day, Trump said: ‘We have the best tests. And we are coming around we’re rounding the turn. Even without the vaccines we’re rounding the turn.’
Biden did call a ‘lid’ – meaning the end of public events for the day – after going to church near his Delware home.
As at prior Trump events, masks weren’t mandatory, and many crowd members eschewed face coverings.
Even with five Pence advisors testing positive, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, and advisor David Bossie were each spotted without masks at the outdoor event.
Trump headed out for a pair of large airport rallies in New England Sunday as the White House contended with a coronavirus outbreak among Vice President Mike Pence's staff.
Trump's trip takes him to an outdoor airport rally in New Hampshire, a state where polling has been sparse but where Democrat Joe Biden leads him by an average of 11 percentage points.
The president also heads to Maine, which divides its electoral college votes by congressional district, and Trump has a chance of picking up a single vote if can can carry the district that includes Bangor like he did in 2016.
Supporters cheer as US President Donald Trump arrive to speak during a campaign rally at Pickaway Agriculture and Event Center in Circleville, Ohio on October 24, 2020. Trump has a pair of campaign events planned Sunday, even as the White House struggles to contain an outbreak of coronavirus among aides to Vice President Mike Pence
He also visited Maine this summer and claimed he saved the states lobster industry, touting funding to fishermen under the CARES act, although Maine's lobster industry hit a high in 2016.
The backdrop was more concern about the coronavirus outbreak, with White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows telling CNN that the vice president 'will be wearing a mask today' after exposure to Pence Chief of Staff Mark Short.
Short is one of four Pence aides plus an outside advisor who tested positive for COVID-19.
But Meadows struggled to explain why Pence would continue his own travel – he heads to North Carolina Sunday – after admitting he was exposed to his top aide.
Vice President Mike Pence (left) will continue to campaign this week after his Chief of Staff Marc Short (right) tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday
While speaking briefly to reporters on the White House driveway, Meadows said, 'He (Pence) was cleared by the doctors to travel'
He said Pence was considered an 'essential employee' that therefore was exempt from Centers for Disease Control guidelines.
Two new polls released Sunday had Trump trailing Biden nationally – and a Dallas Morning News poll has Biden leading Trump 48 to 45 per cent.
A new USC / Dornsife poll has Biden leading Trump by 10 points nationally, 53 to 43, while an IDB / TIPP poll has the lead at 6, 51 to 45.
CBS / YouGov polls gave Biden tight leads in Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina.
Trump and Pence are both on the road, with Pence campaigning in North Carolina – one of several states Trump carried in 2016 that is now in jeopardy.
Pence's office said he tested negative for COVID-19 Sunday, even as Meadows refused to provide details on precisely how many aides are infected. He said contact tracing was underway, although several figures during the outbreak at the superspreader event for Judge Amy Coney Barrett said contact tracing did not occur following that outbreak.
Short, along with a senior political adviser and three other members of the vice president's staff have tested positive for coronavirus.
Short's diagnosis was first reported on Saturday night by Bloomberg - the same outlet that broke the news of Hope Hicks' infection on September 29.
Pence's office later confirmed Short's diagnosis - with the fact that the White House did not announce the news raising eyebrows.
On Saturday night the New York Times reported that two people briefed on the matter said that the White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, had sought to keep news of the outbreak from becoming public.
A wild card is how Trump's trip will play for Collins in Maine. Trump attacked her on Twitter earlier this month. 'There is a nasty rumor out there that @SenatorCollins of Maine will not be supporting our great United States Supreme Court Nominee,' Trump tweeted.
'Well, she didn’t support Healthcare or my opening up 5000 square miles of Ocean to Maine, so why should this be any different. Not worth the work!' Trump added.