President Trump said Wednesday that he hoped to hold “massive” campaign rallies ahead of the November election despite what health experts say is the risk of a renewed outbreak of the coronavirus.
“Hopefully in the not too distant future we’ll have some massive rallies and people will be sitting next to each other,” Trump said at a White House roundtable on the plan the jump-start the economy. “I can’t imagine a rally where you have every fourth seat full, every six seats are empty for every one that you have full. That wouldn’t look too good.”
At his last big rally before social distancing orders took effect, on March 2 in Charlotte, N.C., Trump accused Democrats of politicizing the virus to make him look bad. With the pandemic rewriting the rules of the campaign, Trump used his coronavirus task force briefings to attack his political enemies. But after musing about researching disinfectant injections as a treatment for COVID-19, Trump has substituted roundtable discussions in favor of briefings.
On Wednesday, he made clear that he favored the atmosphere of his rallies.
“I hope that we’re going to be able to do some good, old-fashioned 25,000-person rallies where everyone is going wild because they love our country,” Trump said.
But minutes later, asked whether social distancing guidelines were the cause of new infections leveling off, Trump said, “Maybe that’s it.”
Pressed on whether staging packed rallies, where people sometimes wait in line for hours or days to get in the door, was feasible, Trump replied, “I hope so. I hope so.” The president added that rallies weren’t the only aspect of his former life that he looked forward to. “I hope to see football games and baseball games and basketball.”
While he acknowledged that states would have the final say on whether to allow mass gatherings, Trump reiterated his view that the coronavirus would soon be a thing of the past.
“This is going away,” Trump said. “This is going away. I think we’re going to come up with vaccines and all, but this is going away, and when it’s gone, we’re going to be doing a lot of things.”
The number of Americans who have tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, grew to at least 1,036,652 on Wednesday. More than 60,000 people in the U.S. have died from the virus, according to Johns Hopkins University.