Trump trying to turn page on pandemic just 15 days before election

By Lucia Leal

Washington, Oct 19 (efe-epa).- President Donald Trump on Monday made it clear that he is trying to turn the page on the coronavirus pandemic with 15 days remaining before the Nov. 3 election, claiming that Americans are “tired” of the crisis and calling the country’s health experts “idiots.”

In a telephone call with his campaign team and after a rally in the key state of Arizona, Trump insisted that the public does not want to talk about Covid-19 any longer, despite the fact that the US is seeing a new spike in infections and hospitalizations with an average of 56,000 newly confirmed cases per day.

“People are tired of Covid,” Trump told campaign staffers, CNBC reported, claiming that people are “tired of hearing Fauci and all these idiots, all these idiots who got it wrong,” referring to the country’s top epidemiologist, Dr. Anthony Fauci, and other US health experts.

Trump reacted in this way to an interview aired on Sunday by CBS in which Fauci said that it did not surprise him at all that the president had become infected with Covid-19 earlier in October and that Trump on occasion had equated wearing a mask with showing weakness.

The president broached the idea of firing Fauci, called him a “disaster” and said that doing so would be a “bomb,” but later he admitted that it would be too controversial to jettison the health expert, who is the director of the nonpartisan National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and has advised six US presidents on national health matters.

In the first of two rallies in Arizona, Trump mocked his rival in the presidential election, Democrat Joe Biden, saying that he wants to listen to Fauci for relevant health advice for the country.

Biden. who had no campaign events scheduled for Monday, responded in a tweet with a simple “Yes” and lambasted Trump in a statement for attacking Fauci.

“Mr. President, you’re right about one thing: the American people are tired. They’re tired of your lies about this virus. They’re tired of watching more Americans die, and more people lose their jobs because you refuse to take this pandemic seriously,” Biden said.

The management of the Covid-19 crisis is the Achilles heel of Trump’s campaign, and the president wants to stop talking about it, on Monday calling top execs at CNN “dumb bastards” for continuing to report about a pandemic that has killed more than 220,000 Americans.

The Trump campaign’s clear interest in diverting attention from the pandemic, with the president himself, the first lady, and several dozen White House officials and staffers becoming infected two weeks ago is such that on Monday it complained about the viewpoint that the issue should be part of the debate this Thursday in which Trump and Biden will face off for the final time in a virtual moderated debate in Nashville, Tennessee.

“We had expected that foreign policy would be the central focus of the October 22 debate,” wrote Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien in a letter sent to the independent Commission on Presidential Debates.

Stepien complained about the decision of the debate moderator – journalist Kristen Welker – not to focus only on an exchange of views on foreign policy but rather to also include questions about Covid-19 and climate change, which are significantly thornier issues for Trump, given his much-criticized stances on both.

Nevertheless, and although Biden is maintaining his roughly 10-point advantage over Trump in the national voter surveys, the president and his campaign said on Monday that they are sure that they will be able to win the Nov. 3 election, despite all the forecasts saying otherwise, as they did in 2016.

Trump said on Twitter that he had never been more optimistic about winning the election than right now in either of his two presidential campaigns.

In a telephone press conference, Stepien admitted that the contest is close, but he predicted that Trump will win the key states of Florida and Nevada and announced an investment of $55 million in television ads in those two states, as well as in Arizona, Iowa, Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Georgia.

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