Top Trump aide says president is 'eager to return to the campaign trail'

Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh held a press conference call with reporters on Tuesday where he said the president is “eager to return to the campaign trail and to keep campaigning and keep connecting with Americans.” 

The phone call came just as CNN reported that the Trump campaign had canceled plans to hold a rally in Alabama next weekend due to concerns about rising numbers of coronavirus infections. When asked about the CNN report later Tuesday afternoon, Murtaugh said, “We don’t comment about rally planning.” 

Murtaugh said on the call that Trump is planning to hold more of his signature rallies, and touted the president’s performance by contrasting it with his Democratic rival Joe Biden. 

“That is where he is, is most effective and is without question more effective than Joe Biden,” Murtaugh said of campaign rallies. “It’s no secret that Joe Biden, the Democrats and many in the national media would love to keep President Trump off the campaign trail, but he is determined to keep meeting Americans in person and speaking to them directly.”

Recent polls show Trump trailing Biden by double digits both nationally and in some key states. In response, Trump has tweeted that polls showing him behind Biden are a “joke” and that his private polling shows him doing well. 

Questions about future campaigning arose after Trump held a rally in Tulsa, Okla., on June 20. It was the president’s first rally since early March and the largest indoor event in the country since the coronavirus lockdowns began. 

The rally was marked by disappointing attendance that has fueled internal tensions on the president’s campaign team. A number of staffers who were involved in setting up the event and a pair of Secret Service agents also tested positive for the virus.

On the call, Murtaugh was asked if he had any specifics on where or when Trump might try to hold another event, but he declined to provide details. 

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Tulsa, Oklahoma, prepares for Trump rally
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Tulsa, Oklahoma, prepares for Trump rally
TULSA, OKLAHOMA - JUNE 19: A metal bust of U.S. President Donald Trump is on display outside the BOK Center as people line up to attend his campaign rally tomorrow June 19, 2020 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Trump is scheduled to hold his first political rally since the start of the coronavirus pandemic at the BOK Center on Saturday while infection rates in the state of Oklahoma continue to rise. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
TULSA, OKLAHOMA - JUNE 19: A metal bust of U.S. President Donald Trump is on display outside the BOK Center as people line up to attend his campaign rally tomorrow June 19, 2020 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Trump is scheduled to hold his first political rally since the start of the coronavirus pandemic at the BOK Center on Saturday while infection rates in the state of Oklahoma continue to rise. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
TULSA, OKLAHOMA - JUNE 19: Supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump sleep in the early morning while lined up to attend the Trump's campaign rally near the BOK Center, site of tomorrow's rally, June 19, 2020 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Trump is scheduled to hold his first political rally since the start of the coronavirus pandemic at the BOK Center on Saturday while infection rates in the state of Oklahoma continue to rise. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
TULSA, OKLAHOMA - JUNE 19: Supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump sleep in the early morning while lined up to attend the Trump's campaign rally near the BOK Center, site of tomorrow's rally, June 19, 2020 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Trump is scheduled to hold his first political rally since the start of the coronavirus pandemic at the BOK Center on Saturday while infection rates in the state of Oklahoma continue to rise. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
TULSA, OKLAHOMA - JUNE 18: A mural painted on the side of Mad Dog Liquors is shown June 18, 2020 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The Black Wall Street Massacre occurred in Tulsa in the year 1921 and was one of the worst race riots in the history of the United States where more than 35 square blocks of a predominantly black neighborhood were destroyed in two days of rioting leaving between 150-300 people dead. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
TULSA, OKLAHOMA - JUNE 18: Children pose for photos in front of a mural painted on the side of Mad Dog Liquors June 18, 2020 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The Black Wall Street Massacre occurred in Tulsa in the year 1921 and was one of the worst race riots in the history of the United States where more than 35 square blocks of a predominantly black neighborhood were destroyed in two days of rioting leaving between 150-300 people dead. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
TULSA, OKLAHOMA - JUNE 18: A woman poses for photos in front of a mural marking Black Wall Street, also called the Greenwood District, June 18, 2020 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The Black Wall Street Massacre happened in 1921 and was one of the worst race riots in the history of the United States where more than 35 square blocks of a predominantly black neighborhood were destroyed in two days of rioting leaving between 150-300 people dead. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
TULSA, OKLAHOMA - JUNE 18: The Black Wall Street Massacre memorial is shown June 18, 2020 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The Black Wall Street Massacre happened in 1921 and was one of the worst race riots in the history of the United States where more than 35 square blocks of a predominantly black neighborhood were destroyed in two days of rioting leaving between 150-300 people dead. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
TULSA, OKLAHOMA - JUNE 18: Tributes to George Floyd are laid at the base of a Black Wall Street mural, also called the Greenwood District, June 18, 2020 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The Black Wall Street Massacre happened in 1921 and was one of the worst race riots in the history of the United States where more than 35 square blocks of a predominantly black neighborhood were destroyed in two days of rioting leaving between 150-300 people dead. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
TULSA, OKLAHOMA - JUNE 18: Children pose for a photo in front of a mural marking Black Wall Street, also called the Greenwood Distric, June 18, 2020 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The Black Wall Street Massacre happened in 1921 and was one of the worst race riots in the history of the United States where more than 35 square blocks of a predominantly black neighborhood were destroyed in two days of rioting leaving between 150-300 people dead. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
TULSA, OKLAHOMA - JUNE 18: The Black Wall Street Massacre memorial is shown June 18, 2020 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The Black Wall Street Massacre happened in 1921 and was one of the worst race riots in the history of the United States where more than 35 square blocks of a predominantly black neighborhood were destroyed in two days of rioting leaving between 150-300 people dead. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
TULSA, OKLAHOMA - JUNE 18: People visit the memorial to the Black Wall Street Massacre June 18, 2020 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The Black Wall Street Massacre happened in 1921 and was one of the worst race riots in the history of the United States where more than 35 square blocks of a predominantly black neighborhood were destroyed in two days of rioting leaving between 150-300 people dead. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
TULSA, OKLAHOMA - JUNE 18: The Black Wall Street Massacre memorial is shown June 18, 2020 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The Black Wall Street Massacre happened in 1921 and was one of the worst race riots in the history of the United States where more than 35 square blocks of a predominantly black neighborhood were destroyed in two days of rioting leaving between 150-300 people dead. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
TULSA, OKLAHOMA - JUNE 18: Trump 2020 face masks and other merchandise are shown for sale outside the BOK Center June 18, 2020 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Trump is scheduled to hold his first political rally since the start of the coronavirus pandemic at the BOK Center on Saturday while infection rates in the state of Oklahoma continue to rise. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
TULSA, OKLAHOMA - JUNE 18: Keegan Smith wears a Trump 2020 face mask while waiting in line outside the BOK Center June 18, 2020 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Trump is scheduled to hold his first political rally since the start of the coronavirus pandemic at the BOK Center on Saturday while infection rates in the state of Oklahoma continue to rise. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
TULSA, OKLAHOMA - JUNE 18: Nicholas Winford (L) debates a group of Trump supporters on the racial policies of U.S. President Donald Trump outside the BOK Center June 18, 2020 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Trump is scheduled to hold his first political rally since the start of the coronavirus pandemic at the BOK Center on Saturday while infection rates in the state of Oklahoma continue to rise. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
TULSA, OKLAHOMA - JUNE 18: Trump supporters pose for photos with a giant Trump flag outside BOK Center, site of U.S. President Donald Trump's first political rally since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, June 18, 2020 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Trump is scheduled to hold his first political rally at the BOK Center on Saturday while infection rates in the state of Oklahoma continue to rise. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
TULSA, OKLAHOMA - JUNE 18: Nicholas Winford (R) debates Trump supporter Randall Thom (L), on the racial policies of U.S. President Donald Trump outside the BOK Center June 18, 2020 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Trump is scheduled to hold his first political rally since the start of the coronavirus pandemic at the BOK Center on Saturday while infection rates in the state of Oklahoma continue to rise. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Supporters of President Trump, including a man dressed as the border wall, line up outside outside an arena in Tulsa, Oklahoma, June 18, 2020, where the president will hold his first campaign rally in months this weekend .Despite the heat, the ever-growing risk of coronavirus and a lukewarm reception from local officials, dozens of backers of Trump are already camped out outside the arena (AP photo/ Tom McCarthy)
FILE - In this Monday, June 15, 2020, file photo, a sign marks the intersection of Greenwood Avenue and Archer Street, the former home of Black Wall Street, in Tulsa, Okla. Black community leaders in Tulsa said they fear a large rally by President Donald Trump in the city this weekend could spark violence, and the state's governor asked Trump not to visit the site of a race massacre where up to 300 black residents were killed by white mobs in 1921. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Shawn-Du Stackhouse, left, and Chelsea Guillory, right, pose for a photo at the Black Wall Street Memorial in Tulsa, Okla., Monday, June 15, 2020. For Stackhouse, a barber from the Washington, D.C. area and one of those visiting the Tulsa massacre memorials on this day, the proof that cell-phone videos provided of killings of African-Americans today somehow make the killings of the past, like Tulsa's, more real as well. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Freeman Culver stands in front of a mural listing the names of businesses destroyed during the Tulsa race massacre in Tulsa, Okla., Monday, June 15, 2020, on the other side of what's historically the city's white-black dividing line from where President Donald Trump will rally Saturday. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
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“As far as time, and place and actual locations of rallies, that’s something that we are always looking at and always planning and always considering,” he said, adding, “We have never had a practice of announcing a rally until it is confirmed and ready to go, so we have never commented on our deliberations.”

Murtaugh’s call was mainly focused on a speech and press conference Biden held in Delaware on Tuesday afternoon. He highlighted a list of questions that the Trump campaign had wanted to hear Biden answer at the event. 

Murtaugh also criticized Biden for not having had a press availability in over three months and criticized the former vice president’s record, particularly on past disease outbreaks and China. Murtaugh argued that this undermined Biden’s critiques of Trump’s coronavirus response. 

“He has done nothing but lob partisan grenades from his basement in Delaware while facing very little scrutiny for his own record,“ Murtaugh said of Biden.

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