The President has returned to his campaigning activities despite his coronavirus diagnosis, delivering a speech from the White House on Saturday in which he called on the surprising number of Black and Latino people in attendance to vote Democrats “into oblivion.”
At the event, billed by the White House as a protest for law and order, Trump continued to downplay the severity of COVID-19 and told an audience of MAGA hat wearers—many of them Black—that a Biden presidency would bring socialism to America, reports the New York Times.
Though the White House said it had invited nearly 2,000 people to the ‘protest’—in actuality a campaign rally held in a place paid for with our tax dollars and which just a few weeks ago was the site of a super spreader event—only a few hundred people were in attendance.
Among those attendees were Black and non-Black people clad in blue Blexit shirts, who Candace Owens had paid to travel to D.C. and bear “Back the Blue” and “Police Lives Matter” signs in a show of support for her organization, cops, and Trump.
From ABC News:
Supporters, who [were] also scheduled to attend a separate BLEXIT event earlier in the day, were invited to attend a “HUGE outdoor rally” by the group and asked to fill out a form that notified them that BLEXIT, a campaign urging Black Americans to leave the Democratic Party, will be covering travel costs.
Guests were later informed they would be receiving an invitation from the White House to attend an event with Trump.
Appearing to be speaking specifically to these ‘Back the Blue’ Black people in a bid to win their votes, Trump said at the event that “the homes and churches and businesses of Black Americans have been looted,” due to this year’s protests against extra-judicial killings of Black people by police.
From the New York Times:
“Sleepy Joe Biden’s betrayed Black and Latino Americans,” Mr. Trump said, as part of his attempt to win over more than the 8 percent of Black voters he won four years ago.
In late August, Mr. Trump also spoke at the Republican National Convention on the South Lawn, delivering his acceptance speech for the nomination in front of the same balcony where he stood on Saturday, continuing to play down the virus despite its entry into his own orbit.
“It’s going to disappear,” he said on Saturday, after underscoring recent “flare-ups” in other countries. He added that “the therapeutics are going to help a lot” and claimed, without evidence, that a vaccine was coming out “very, very quickly.”
Emails obtained by ABC News showed Owens recruiting Blexit supporters and telling them masks were required for entry to the White House, but those who watched Trump deliver his speech from the South Lawn ended up donning more MAGA hats than they did masks.
Meanwhile, White House doctor Sean Conley said on Saturday night that the president is “no longer considered a transmission risk to others,” but notably did not say whether Trump is now testing negative for COVID-19.