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Donald and Melania Trump hit swing states North Carolina and Florida

First lady Melania Trump finally attended a campaign rally alongside her husband, President Donald Trump, Thursday with just five days to go before the 2020 presidential election – with the couple kissing on stage before she opened the event for him.

She told an almost entirely mask-free crowd in Tampa that her husband and his team was ‘working on not only destroying the virus and building back the economy, they are focused on creating ways for people to safely stop isolating and safely gathering with friends at a safe distance.’

In front of her were about 6,000 people packed so tightly that they were sprayed with water to keep them cool in 86-degree heat. 

The first couple’s supporters were in place hours before their scheduled early afternoon arrival and there were at least three medical emergencies announced over loudspeakers, and organizers deployed water hoses to keep packed supporters cool.

The potential for medical problems was just days after dozens of supporters needed medical attention at the end of a rally in freezing conditions in Omaha, Nebraska, when shuttle buses to take them to their cars failed to arrive.

Coronavirus cases in Florida have fallen from the July peak of 15,000 cases a day but were at 4,115 cases on Wednesday and are on an upward trend. 

 The crowd chanted ‘we love you’ as she walked on stage with her husband, and cheered as he kissed her at the end of her brief speech. 

The first lady, with Trump standing along her side, told a packed and sweaty crowd, ‘A vote for President Trump is a vote for a better America.’ 

Opening with a kiss: Donald and Melania Trump kissed after she opened for him on stage – to a packed crowd 

Backing for her husband: Melania Trump spoke in front of a packed crowd at the Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, to chants of 'we love you'

Backing for her husband: Melania Trump spoke in front of a packed crowd at the Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, to chants of ‘we love you’

You’ll be able to stop isolating and see your friends at a distance: Melania Trump promised that her husband was working towards these goals – to an audience packed in and mask free 

Proud husband: Donald Trump beamed as Melania Trump endorsed him for a second term to cheering fans in Tampa

Proud husband: Donald Trump beamed as Melania Trump endorsed him for a second term to cheering fans in Tampa

Here for the first couple: This was the scene of crowds waiting for the rally with Melania and Donald Trump in Tampa - her first appearance with on the campaign trail in more than a year

Here for the first couple: This was the scene of crowds waiting for the rally with Melania and Donald Trump in Tampa – her first appearance with on the campaign trail in more than a year

Virtually mask free: There was no social distancing and no sign of masks as an estimated crowd of 6,000 packed into the rally venue

Virtually mask free: There was no social distancing and no sign of masks as an estimated crowd of 6,000 packed into the rally venue 

Red sea, mask free: This was the scene shortly before the arrival of Donald and Melania Trump in Tampa for their rally

Red sea, mask free: This was the scene shortly before the arrival of Donald and Melania Trump in Tampa for their rally 

Getting ready for the president: Supporters in the packed venue were stuck in 85 degree heat waiting for the Republican candidate to arrive at the Raymond James stadium

Getting ready for the president: Supporters in the packed venue were stuck in 85 degree heat waiting for the Republican candidate to arrive at the Raymond James stadium

Four more years: Before Trump arrived the crowd tested out chants with warm-up acts including Florida governor Ron DeSantis -but did not socially distance or wear masks

Four more years: Before Trump arrived the crowd tested out chants with warm-up acts including Florida governor Ron DeSantis -but did not socially distance or wear masks

Packed into the bleachers: There was no social distancing in the seats behind where the president was due to speak

Packed into the bleachers: There was no social distancing in the seats behind where the president was due to speak

Supersoaker in action: The crowd was cooled down with water before the event got under way

Supersoaker in action: The crowd was cooled down with water before the event got under way

And she pointed out that they were back in their home state.

She ticked off a number of her husband’s accomplishments including ‘historic peace in the Middle East.’

‘We didn’t just talk about it, we moved our embassy to Jerusalem,’ she noted.

The first lady also said the economy was ‘restored.’ ‘And our unemployment shrank.’

She pledged that ‘healthcare for every citizen remains a priority for him.’

Melania Trump also said her husband continues to work toward ‘destroying the virus.’

At times the audience chanted for her to turn up her mic, as she didn’t speak with the same volume as her husband, who began his stump speech right after. 

After she left, 

Beyond complimenting the first lady for her appearance, Trump also name-dropped his embattled Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, who is reportedly on thin ice with the president and could get axed post-November 3. 

The president briefly alluded to his campaign rival Joe Biden, saying that he had ‘come out of his basement’ – an acknowledgment of the Democratic candidate also heading to Tampa to campaign.

But he focused on the revelation that Miles Taylor, the Department of Homeland Security Chief of Staff who became a public critic of the president in August, was also ‘Anonymous.’ 

‘It turns out to be some low life!’ Trump remarked. The president said he kept trying to figure out who, among his top ranking officials, would have written what was originally a New York Times piece.

‘Everybody walks into my office. Oh Secretary of State Pompeo. I could name every one of them. All big people – I’m looking at them, I’m saying, I’m wondering if that could be the one.’

Trump pointed out that Taylor went from placing an editorial in The New York Times to a contributorship with CNN – and he also had a gig at Google, all of the president’s favorite enemies, including ‘big tech.’ Members of the audience started a ‘CNN sucks’ chant. 

‘It shouldn’t happen and he should be prosecuted,’ Trump said. ‘Are you listening to me back in Washington?’ Trump asked. ‘Along with The New York Times,’ Trump said.

‘Bad things are going to happen to him!’ Trump said. ‘It’s like a horrible treasonous thing do something and get away with it.’  

Trump resurrected the creepy Joe Biden attack at the Tampa rally. ‘He’s a touchy-feely guy!’ Trump told the crowd. The president deployed his usual lines. ‘Joe Biden is a corrupt politician and the fake news won’t write about it,’ the president said.

He mocked Biden for not holding large rallies and calling early ‘lids’ when a candidate doesn’t leave his or her residence. ‘That’s like 50 per cent of the campaign,’ Trump remarked of Biden’s lighter campaign schedule.

 

 

 

 

‘It took me three years to get him out of Congress and become chief of staff,’ Trump told the crowd, applauding Meadows’ efforts.

At one point Trump pointed to a bigger man near the front of the crowd and said he was crying. Trump said he, too, wanted to cry when he heard the ‘I love you’ chant – but decided not to do it because leaders like Chinese President Xi might judge him.

He also said China was buying up American farmers’ corn and soybeans – Trump said it was evidence that they knew he would win.

The president, surprisingly, had nice things to say about NBC’s Kristen Welker, who moderated the final debate between he and Biden.

‘She should have been really unfair,’ Trump said, pointing out that her parents had donated money to Democrats.

A new poll in Florida released Thursday shows that in the days before the election, 51 per cent of likely voters in the swing state prefer Biden over the 47 per cent who support Trump – a 4 per cent margin in a poll with a 4.4 per cent margin of error

A new poll in Florida released Thursday shows that in the days before the election, 51 per cent of likely voters in the swing state prefer Biden over the 47 per cent who support Trump – a 4 per cent margin in a poll with a 4.4 per cent margin of error

Trump’s warm-up act in the 86-degree heat was Florida’s Gov. Ron DeSantis, who had to call out twice to get audience members’ medical attention, during his brief speech. Another speaker prior to DeSantis also had to call out for assistance on behalf of someone in the crowd.

Supporters, a super-majority not wearing masks, crammed up near the front where the podium was set up.

At one point prior to Trump’s arrival, a giant fountain started super-spraying the audience.

The appearance by the first lady underlines the importance of Florida. 

The last time Melania Trump attended a campaign rally was in June 2019 in Orlando, Florida.  

Melania Trump was originally supposed to make her campaign rally debut on October 20, accompanying her husband to his event in Erie, Pennsylvania, but nixed the trip due to a lingering cough from the coronavirus.

Both Melania Trump and the president tested positive for COVID-19 on October 1. 

Trump resumed his rallies on October 12.    

Escorted off stage: Donald Trump walked his wife to the end of the raised dais after she addressed the crowd of 6,000

Escorted off stage: Donald Trump walked his wife to the end of the raised dais after she addressed the crowd of 6,000

Watching her husband: Melania Trump took a seat after her speech in a corner of the roped off area in front of the crowd

Watching her husband: Melania Trump took a seat after her speech in a corner of the roped off area in front of the crowd

Distancing for someone: Melania Trump got a seat at the side of the dais after her speech

Distancing for someone: Melania Trump got a seat at the side of the dais after her speech 

Line up for Trump: This was the scene in the morning as supporters arrived for the joint rally with Melania and Donald Trump

Line up for Trump: This was the scene in the morning as supporters arrived for the joint rally with Melania and Donald Trump 

No sign of masks: The crowds gathering in the seated area were apparently eschewing the government's safety guidelines

No sign of masks: The crowds gathering in the seated area were apparently eschewing the government’s safety guidelines

Here for the Trumps: This was the crowd at the Tampa rally - as case numbers escalate across the country

Here for the Trumps: This was the crowd at the Tampa rally – as case numbers escalate across the country

Here to show support: This was how one fan arrived for the event

Here to show support: This was how one fan arrived for the event

The first public event the first lady attended after coming down with the coronavirus was the October 22 presidential debate in Nashville, Tennessee. 

Then, on Tuesday, she made a solo excursion to Atglen, Pennsylvania with former counselor to the president, Kellyanne Conway, to shore up support in the Philadelphia suburbs. 

There, she launched a full-scale attack against Democratic nominee Joe Biden and his party.   

‘Joe Biden’s policies and socialist agenda will only serve to destroy America and all that has been built in the past four years,’ the first lady said. ‘We must keep Donald in the White House so he can finish what he’s started and our country can continue to flourish.’ 

She reminded potential voters that her husband was dealing with an impeachment trial as the coronavirus was coming to U.S. shores. 

‘Let us also not forget what the Democrats chose to focus on when COVID-19 first came into our country. While the President was taking decisive actions to keep the American people safe, the Democrats were wasting American taxpayer dollars in a sham impeachment,’ she said. 

‘They cared more about removing our elected president. Meanwhile, I watched Donald continue to work hard to keep people informed and calm, to protect our economy, and make hard and unpopular decisions to do all he could to keep us all safe,’ she continued. 

‘FANTASTIC!!!’ TRUMP HAILS 33.1% GDP GROWTH – BUT ECONOMY IS STILL IN A DEEP HOLE FROM COVID 

The U.S. economy experienced record growth in July, August and September of 33.1 per cent, the Bureau of Economic Analysis announced Thursday – a  figure President Trump immediately touted as ‘FANTASTIC!!!’

The figure was the fastest pace since the government started keeping records in 1947 and followed a historic shrinkage rate of 31.4% in the second quarter.

The record-making growth figure came as Trump was eager to put the economy in the forefront of the final days of the election – although it follows a period of steep negative growth, with millions of Americans still filing for unemployment.

‘GDP number just announced. Biggest and Best in the History of our Country, and not even close,’ the president wrote on Twitter. ‘Next year will be FANTASTIC!!!’

Trump then used the development to attack rival Joe Biden, who is centering his campaign around the coronavirus, while Trump makes a push for reopening.

The two were going head-to-head in Tampa, Florida, with Trump holding a mass rally and Biden addressing a smaller event. 

‘However, Sleepy Joe Biden and his proposed record setting tax increase, would kill it all. So glad this great GDP number came out before November 3rd,’ Trump wrote. 

The Bureau’s estimate Thursday of third-quarter growth regained only about two-thirds of the output that was lost early this year when the economy essentially froze as safety orders forced restaurants, bars and many retailers to shut down. 

But the markets ignored the apparent good news with the Dow up just 48 points by midday, having slid almost 2,000 points since last Friday as traders grapple with soaring COVID numbers, lockdowns in Europe and 

President Donald Trump tweeted about the record-breaking growth, and predicted next year would be 'FANTASTIC!!!'

President Donald Trump tweeted about the record-breaking growth, and predicted next year would be ‘FANTASTIC!!!’

However Biden blasted Trump for his stewardship of the economy and the pandemic in a statement on the new economic report.

‘President Trump’s failure to take action this spring to get control of the coronavirus led to gutted businesses, closed schools and tens of millions of people out of work that could have been prevented,’ he said.

‘This report underscores three inescapable truths about Donald Trump’s economy: we are in a deep hole and President Trump’s failure to act has meant that Q3 growth wasn’t nearly enough to get us out of; the recovery is slowing if not stalling; and the recovery that is happening is helping those at the top, but leaving tens of millions of working families and small businesses behind.’ 

The surge in GDP growth will recoup a little over half of the 10.6% plunge in output in the first half of the year. By comparison, the economy contracted 4% peak to trough during the 2007-09 Great Recession.  

More than $3 trillion in federal pandemic relief spending fueled historic consumer spending, but the deep scars from the COVID-19 recession could take a year or more to heal.

Just over half of the 22.2 million jobs lost during the pandemic have been recouped, and layoffs persist. The economy plunged into recession in February.  

The economy is now weakening again and facing renewed threats. Confirmed viral cases are surging. Hiring has sagged. Government stimulus has run out. With no further federal aid in sight this year, Goldman Sachs has slashed its growth forecast for the current fourth quarter to a 3% annual rate from 6%.

‘We have a pretty noxious brew developing with the pandemic intensifying, the lack of any further government stimulus and signs showing that the economy is already slowing pretty significantly,’ said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody´s Analytics.

Thursday’s estimate of GDP growth is the last major economic report before Election Day, after a campaign that President Donald Trump has sought to build around his economic record before the pandemic hit. Trump has drawn generally solid public support for his handling of the economy.

Though the unemployment rate, at 7.9%, is down significantly from 14.7% at the start of the pandemic recession, it is still historically high. And hiring has slowed for three straight months. The economy is still roughly 10.7 million jobs short of recovering all the 22 million jobs that were lost to the pandemic.   

No one disputes that the Commerce Department’s report Thursday on gross domestic product – one of the last major economic scorecards before next week’s presidential election – is one for the history books. 

Nonetheless, it will do little to mitigate the human tragedy inflicted by the coronavirus pandemic, with tens of millions Americans still unemployed and more than 222,000 dead.

Flags aloft: Trump fans arrived with merchandise and state and U.S. flags for the event

Flags aloft: Trump fans arrived with merchandise and state and U.S. flags for the event 

Ultra Trump loyalists began arriving at Raymond James Stadium, where the Tampa Bay Buccaneers play, hours ahead of the president's rally

Ultra Trump loyalists began arriving at Raymond James Stadium, where the Tampa Bay Buccaneers play, hours ahead of the president’s rally

Thousands of Trump supporters lined up to gain access to the afternoon rally

Thousands of Trump supporters lined up to gain access to the afternoon rally 

Getting into their car: Donald Trump walked towards his wife on their way to the rally venue in Tampa

Getting into their car: Donald Trump walked towards his wife on their way to the rally venue in Tampa

PDA: Trump kissed Melania repeatedly - first as they met when their planes landed in Tampa and then on stage

PDA: Trump kissed Melania repeatedly – first as they met when their planes landed in Tampa and then on stage

She repeated her husband’s attack line against Biden – that he called it ‘Xenophobic hysteria’ – implementing his partial travel ban from China in late January.

‘Now he suggests that he could have done a better job,’ she said. ‘Well, the American people can look at Joe Biden’s 36 years in congress and eight years in the vice presidency and determine whether they think he’ll finally be able to get something done for the American people.’ 

Trump and Joe Biden are both campaigning in Florida on Thursday, where they will hold their respective rallies just hours apart, as the candidates chase votes in the swing state essential for a win next week.

Florida, now the president’s home state, is crucial for Trump to earn a second term as it’s the 2020 battleground state with the most Electoral College votes.

Biden's was joined by his late son Beau's daughter Natalie (right) for his campaign swing through Florida on Thursday

Biden’s was joined by his late son Beau’s daughter Natalie (right) for his campaign swing through Florida on Thursday

Biden and his granddaughter departed rainy New Castle, Delaware for the Sunshine State

Biden and his granddaughter departed rainy New Castle, Delaware for the Sunshine State 

Both candidates will hold their campaign events in the gulf coast city of Tampa, where they will encourage voters to turn out on November 3 in an area of Florida known for its rapid residential growth, including sprawling suburbs. 

Besides holding the rallies in Tampa, the similarities in campaigning end there.

Trump is holding his midday rally in a lot just outside Buccaneer’s Stadium, which also happens to be an early voting location in Hillsborough County.

The close proximity will surely cause a log jam for those looking to cast their early votes in-person at that specific location. Meaning, the president can seriously amp up voter turnout for him before, during and after his rally.

The Hillsborough County election supervisor has already issued a statement warning voters of traffic delays.

Although electioneering is prohibited within 150 feet of a polling station, the rally is technically on the outskirts of the no-electioneering boundary – meaning there is nothing that can be done to stop the president from holding the event despite fuming from the Biden camp.

Trump’s rally is expected to mirror his hundreds of others, with thousands of fanatic supporters gathered in close-proximity to one another. And if his previous coronavirus-era rallies are any indication, there will be no social distancing or requirements for face coverings.Biden’s campaign event, which will be held Thursday evening, will be a drive-in rally style to ensure social distancing. 

Trump won Florida in 2016 by a margin of 1.2 per cent, earning 48.6 per cent of the vote to Hillary Clinton’s 47.4 per cent – the state would be a major win for either candidate.

According to a new NBC News/Marist poll released Thursday, Biden has 4 per cent more support in the Sunshine State than Trump – especially field by his support among seniors and independent voters.

Of the 743 likely voters polled in Florida October 25-27, 51 per cent say they support Biden to the 47 per cent who favor Trump. Notably, the poll’s margin of error is at plus or minus 4.4. Percentage points.

Only 2 percent of Florida voters are undecided or are voting for someone other than Trump or Biden.

Florida has been deemed by Cook Political Report as a toss up, and with 29 Electoral College votes, it is the most influential ‘toss up’ state. 

The dueling rallies highlight the importance of the region, as Tampa embodies a wide variety of Floridians with urban, suburban and rural demographics as well as a spectrum of races and everything from working class to retired Americans.

If Trump is going to have an upset victory again, Florida is the state that will help him achieve that, and if Biden wants to stop the president’s chance at reelection, Florida is the one state that could do that.

More than 73 million Americans have already voted, whether absentee or early voting by mail or in-person. 

Trump and Biden have kicked into high gear with rigorous campaign schedules as they try to energize the millions who have not yet voted and will turn up in-person on Tuesday. 

The president is also planning to rally in South Florida this weekend while the former vice president is holding a Thursday event earlier in the day before his rally in Democrat-rich Broward County, which just north of Miami encompasses Fort Lauderdale. 

While the Election Day vote traditionally favors Republicans and early votes tend toward Democrats, the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 227,000 people in the U.S., has injected new uncertainty about the makeup of the electorate.

The visit to Florida comes as Biden has framed his closing argument to voters on responsible management of the COVID-19 pandemic.

‘Even if I win, it’s going to take a lot of hard work to end this pandemic,’ Biden said Wednesday during a speech in Wilmington, Delaware. ‘I do promise this: We will start on day one doing the right things.’

Trump promises the nation is already on course to ‘vanquish the virus.’

The president spent Wednesday in Arizona, where relaxed rules on social distancing made staging big rallies easier. Thousands gathered in close proximity without wearing masks – a trend that was expected to continue through more than a dozen events in the final sprint to Election Day.

After his rally in Tampa Thursday evening, Trump will travel with first lady Melania to Fayetteville, North Carolina for another rally.

He has scheduled a much more ambitious campaign schedule in the days leading up to the election than the Democratic nominee – sometimes holding three rallies a day along with other campaign and presidential duties.

Biden, meanwhile, heads later in the week to three more states Trump won in 2016: Iowa, Wisconsin and Michigan, where he’ll hold a joint Saturday rally with former President Barack Obama.

The pandemic’s consequences were escalating, with deaths climbing in 39 states and an average of 805 people dying daily nationwide – up from 714 two weeks ago. The sharp rise sent shockwaves through financial markets, causing the Dow Jones Industrial Average to drop 900-plus points.

Trump, who frequently lauds rising markets, failed to mention the decline on Wednesday. But he promised that economic growth figures for the summer quarter, due Thursday, would be strong, declaring during a rally in Bullhead City, Arizona, ‘This election is a choice between a Trump super-recovery and a Biden depression.’

Trump is betting on the GOP´s vast field and data operations, and efforts known as ‘poll flushing’ – monitoring precinct lists for who has and has not yet voted – to provide a late boost of votes on Election Day. The Republican National Committee, which has more than 3,000 field staff and claims more than 2.5 million volunteers, will use that information to reach out to Trump supporters who have not voted throughout Election Day to ensure they get to the polls.

‘We will continue our historic voter outreach efforts by knocking on over 4.5 million doors and making 15 million more calls to ensure voters turn out to the polls and vote for President Trump and Republicans up and down the ballot,’ party spokesperson Mandi Merritt said.

Nowhere may those efforts be more important than in Florida. Without the battleground state’s 29 electoral votes, Trump’s path to victory is exceptionally difficult.

Trump is banking on local news coverage of his visit to overcome a substantial advertising deficit stemming from a late cash crunch. Biden and his allies are outspending Trump and his backers by more than 3-to-1 in Florida – about $23 million to about $7 million – in the final push to Election Day, according to data from ad tracking firm Kantar/CMAG.

In both Hillsborough County, which includes Tampa, and the adjacent Pinellas County, Democrats are crushing vote by mail. As of Wednesday morning, more than 53,000 Democrats had voted by mail in Hillsborough than Republicans. In Pinellas, the largest of the four counties in the state to switch from Obama to Trump in 2016, that number was just shy of 30,000 more Democrats voting by mail than Republicans.

Republicans in both counties have a slight edge in the state’s in-person early voting, which began last Saturday as Trump himself voted in Palm Beach County downstate, and the GOP will likely need a strong showing on Tuesday to overcome Democratic leads.

Because of concerns about submission deadlines, Postal Service backlogs and the potential for drawn-out legal challenges, Democrats are pressing their backers who have yet to return a ballot to head to the polls in person. Trump, meanwhile, is banking on enthusiasm among his Election Day supporters to overcome indicated Democratic strength in some early returns.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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