President Trump on Tuesday said he had been “sailing” to reelection before the coronavirus pandemic struck the United States and could have won reelection even if he were running against George Washington.
“George Washington would have had a hard time beating me before the plague came in, before the China plague,” Trump said in an interview with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt. “And then, you know, like every other nation, like other countries, when you get hit, it affects you, and we went down a little bit. And then we went down a little bit more, and now we’re coming up at a level that we haven’t seen.”
“I was sailing,” the president continued. “I mean, we were going, we were going very good, Hugh. It was really looking good, and then we got hit by the plague. And now, people are respecting the way we’ve handled that.”
In both national polls and surveys of key swing states, Trump has fallen behind former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, as voters register widespread disapproval of the president’s response to a pandemic that has killed more than 160,000 Americans and infected more than 5 million.
The president also suggested that if Biden were to win the election, everyone in the United States would have to learn to speak Chinese.
“Look, China will own the United States if this election is lost by Donald Trump,” he said. “If I don’t win the election, China will own the United States. You’re going to have to learn to speak Chinese, you want to know the truth.”
Trump, however, believes there is enthusiasm on his side.
“I just got back from Texas, Ohio and Florida,” he told Hewitt. “They’re the largest crowds on the highway I’ve ever seen.” (At a fundraiser in New Jersey over the weekend, Trump estimated there were “100,000 people at least in each place, riding down the streets, all over the highways.”)
“I’d love to do the rallies,” Trump added. “We can’t because of the COVID. You know, you can’t have people sitting next to each other.”
The president reiterated his call for the return of college football in the fall, downplaying the risks of coronavirus outbreaks among teams and using the issue to draw a contrast with Biden, whom Trump frequently baits by calling him “Sleepy.”
“I think you should play football,” Trump said. “These are young, strong athletes. As you know, this disease has very little impact on young people, the immune system, and plus, they’re in great health. They’re in very good health.”
(According to ESPN, at least five collegiate athletes have been diagnosed with myocarditis, a rare condition linked to COVID-19 that can lead to heart damage and even cardiac arrest if it’s untreated. The diagnoses are why some athletic departments have been seriously weighing the possibility of not playing football and other fall sports in 2020.)
Asked if he thought Biden would agree, Trump responded: “I don’t think Joe knows ... what he’s doing right now. I think Joe’s trying to get out of the basement. I’m not sure that he knows. If you’d ask him that question, I don’t think he’d be able to answer it.”
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