President says rising coronavirus cases worldwide show lockdowns no panacea
President Donald Trump on Thursday defended his earlier tweet suggesting the Nov. 3 election should be postponed, repeating his unsupported contention that widespread fraud is likely and the outcome could take too long to decide.
Trump’s tweet generated an uproar in Washington and no major Republican lawmaker came to his defense. Democrats have accused him of trying to undermine the election.
At the White House’s daily press conference on the coronavirus, the president reiterated his criticism of mail-in voting by pointing to ongoing delays in ballot counting involving a close New York congressional race.
The outcome still hasn’t been officially declared more than a month after the primary pitting Democratic incumbent Carolyn Maloney against left-leaning challenger Suraj Patel. Maloney appears to hold a insurmountable edge, however, and the final results could come soon.
“What will happen in November? It’s a mess,” Trump said. “I want to have the election, but I don’t want to wait three months.”
Studies of mail-in voting have found scant evidence of fraud and some states such as Washington and Oregon have shown success in managing voting by mail. Many other states are moving to increase mail-in voting to limit the spread of the coronavirus and safeguard the health of voters.
Recent polls have shown Trump is significantly trailing presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden, with fewer than 100 days before the election.
During his abbreviated press conference, Trump also sought to counter criticism of his handling of the coronavirus crisis after a rash of new cases around the country. He referred to fresh outbreaks in Japan and other countries and noted that cases appear to be decelerating in hotspots like Arizona.
“No one is immune,” he said. He argued that rising coronavirus cases around the world show that “blanket shutdowns” are not a “viable strategy for any country.”
While other countries have experienced a resurgence, the coronavirus is still spreading faster in the United States.
The president also made a plea for more Americans who’ve had the coronavirus to donate plasma to help treat other victims. Plasma has shown some ability to relief symptoms.
“We need plasma from those who’ve recovered,” Trump said.
Asked about the pending expiration of emergency federal aid, Trump said his administration backed more financial relief for families, a moratorium on evictions of delinquent renters and home owners, and further delays in payments on federal student loans.
Congress is deadlocked on whether to retain a $600 bonus payment for unemployed workers in its entirety. It’s one of a handful of key issues over which the two parties are divided.
Economists say more help is needed as evidenced by a record 32.9% annual decline in second-quarter gross domestic product. The plunge in GDP was the largest since World War II.