Boasting about his achievements and hurling unsubstantiated allegations against his opponents, U.S. President Donald Trump appeared back to his old self as he addressed supporters at the White House in his first public event since being diagnosed with COVID-19.
Standing alone and not wearing a mask, the Republican president spoke from a White House balcony at an event called “a peaceful protest for law & order,” urging a crowd of hundreds of largely Black and Latino supporters to help get out the vote in the November 3 presidential election.
His appearance – amid continued questions over whether he is still contagious – is seen as a first step toward resuming full campaigning next week. He is due to go to Florida, Pennsylvania, and Iowa, on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, respectively.
Speaking firmly and without hesitation, Trump delivered a shorter-than-usual campaign speech, hailing his record in fighting crime and boosting the U.S. economy, while slamming Democrats as supporters cheered. A flesh-colored bandage was visible on his right hand.
“I’m feeling great,” he told the crowd.
Those gathered were wearing masks, although most failed to observe social distancing guidelines.
It was the first time Trump had appeared in public since he was released from a three-night stay in hospital on Monday, when some observers watching his return to the White House said he appeared at times to be short of breath.
The White House has released videos and Trump has called into television shows since then, but this was supporters’ first chance to see the president live.
The White House has not released the results of Trump’s latest COVID-19 test and has declined to say when he last tested negative. Trump first revealed that he had had a positive test on October 2 and on Thursday said he was no longer contagious, which some experts say is unlikely.
The White House last gave a public assessment of Trump’s health status on Thursday when the president’s doctor, Dr Sean Conley, said in a memo that Trump had completed his course of therapy for the coronavirus, had responded “extremely well” to treatment, and cleared him for public engagements.
On Friday, a White House spokeswoman said Trump would be tested for COVID-19 and would not go out in public if it was determined he could still spread the virus.
Trump’s doctor gives him the all-clear: