Trump has held 12 in-person rallies since leaving the hospital earlier this month, as he campaigns in earnest ahead of the Nov. 3 election against Joe Biden

By Sean Neumann
Updated October 19, 2020 03:39 PM
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President Donald Trump
| Credit: SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty

A quick scroll through Donald Trump’s account on Twitter will tell you what the president has remained focused on well into October: his re-election bid.

Perhaps the only unsurprising thing about Trump's three-day hospitalization with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) earlier this month was that it did not knock his attention from the campaign trail, where he is likely to spend the majority of the last few weeks before the Nov. 3 election against former Vice President Joe Biden.

Trump campaign spokesman Jason Miller told reporters last week the president, 74, was “getting on my case for not having enough rallies and public events scheduled,” CNBC reports.

Miller said he expected Trump to have two-to-three campaign events per day in the final stretch of the 2020 election and he said “that will even grow as we get closer to Election Day."

An ABC News reporter, citing a campaign source, wrote Monday that the president planned on five rallies for each of the campaign's last two days.

Trump has recently criss-crossed the country with campaign events in Arizona, Florida, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina and more — a tour through the key battlegrounds that reflects Biden's push to flip each or all of those states, hoping to capitalize on the president's vulnerability from a deadly pandemic he regularly argues is almost overcome.

That was the message at his first post-hospitalization rally, in Florida on Oct. 12

“I feel so powerful,” he said, with a characteristic exaggeration. “I’ll walk into that audience. I’ll walk in there, I’ll kiss everyone in that audience. I’ll kiss the guys and the beautiful women, and everybody. I’ll just give you a big, fat kiss."

"You got to get out, and it’s risky, it’s risky, but you got to get out," Trump said then, trying to draw a contrast with Biden, who has campaigned along public health guidelines. "But it does give you a good feeling when you can beat something."

Meanwhile, back at the White House, Trump has fit in some governing.

President Donald Trump at an NBC News town hall on Thursday
| Credit: CNBC

Trump's Presidential Activity Since His Hospitalization

According to his public schedule and pool reports from the reporters who join him on his daily activity, Trump has appeared to keep up a routine amount of public-facing work while campaigning around the country and on Twitter.

The president has continued to approve and sign documents, though he's taken few in-person meetings, in part due to recommendations he quarantine following his infection with COVID-19.

This month — from Walter Reed hospital, the White House and the campaign trail — Trump has signed at least eight emergency declarations, given a handful of standard presidential proclamations to honor holidays like General Pulaski Day and recognize initiatives like “Fire Prevention Week,” while he’s signed three pipeline permits, executive orders on water and forest management and has made some internal administrative appointments.

The White House has also been focused on the push to quickly confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, a process that has drawn widespread backlash from Democrats as hypocritical given how Republicans ignored the last election year nominee, Merrick Garland, in 2016.

Among the key issues still left unresolved in the final days of the campaign, however, is the fate of another COVID-19 relief package. The president previously blew up the negotiations with House Democrats before resuming them, while Senate Republicans seem less interested in the amounts being discussed.

Elsewhere, the White House says Trump took calls with some foreign leaders while quarantined with COVID-19, including an Oct. 10 talk with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

The day before, Trump spoke for nearly two hours on the phone with conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh while he remained quarantined at the White House.

President Donald Trump speaks at the White House on Oct. 10
| Credit: MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images
President Donald Trump addresses supporters at the White House on Oct. 10

Trump's Return to Campaigning

Once medically cleared in a memo by White House physician Dr. Sean Conley — a finding later confirmed by other medical advisers like Dr. Anthony Fauci — Trump jolted back out to the trail with his first post-hospital rally on Oct. 12. He has held at least one campaign event per day since then — west to Arizona and California and Nevada; south to Florida and Georgia and North Carolina; and across the Midwest.

He has at times rejoiced to be able to return to a stage, surrounded by his supporters, where he has even broken out dancing. As with so many other episodes in his presidency, Trump emerged from his recent health scare seemingly as much himself as ever before.

"Nobody ever said this fight was not going to be a hard one, but we will make it like you’ve never seen," he said at that Oct. 12 rally.

"I am so energized by your prayers and humbled by your support. We’ve had such incredible support and here we are," he said then. "Here we are."

At the same time that almost 900,000 new Americans filed for unemployment last week, according to Axios, the president has asked for their vote at 12 separate campaign rallies, vowing again to “Make America Great Again.”

Trump also held an unofficial campaign speech at the White House on Oct. 10 and has had numerous media appearances over the last week, including a town hall on NBC News and his call with Limbaugh.

President Donald Trump at an Oct. 12 campaign rally in Sanford, Florida.
| Credit: SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty

How Trump's Campaigning Compares to Recent Incumbents

For comparison to Trump’s activity this month since returning to campaigning, then-incumbent Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama held fewer campaign rallies in the same Oct. 12-Oct. 19 timeframe.

During the same stretch in 2004, Bush held 11 campaign events while signing at least four bills into law and making similar holiday proclamations as Trump, according to his archived schedule. (Obama held six campaign events during this timeframe, according to his archives.)

According to Democracy in Action, a bipartisan project that documents campaign travels, Trump has also followed a similar swing-state route as Bush did in 2004, with recent stops in Arizona, Florida, Iowa, Nevada and Pennsylvania.

Trump's campaigning, while at a slightly higher rate than his predecessors, has come under particular scrutiny for also flouting COVID-19 safety precautions at the same time that he downplays the virus that has killed more than 200,000 people in the U.S.

Federal health officials have warned against large public gatherings in an effort to reduce the virus' spread, though photos and videos of Trump's rallies often show supporters not wearing masks and standing less than the recommended six feet from one another in the crowd. (His campaign tells PEOPLE attendees are given temperature checks and advised to wear masks.)

But when the nation’s leading expert on infectious diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci, was asked Sunday whether he was surprised Trump contracted the novel coronavirus given his continued public appearances with crowds, Fauci said: "Absolutely not.”

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