WASHINGTON — Despite poll numbers that show him trailing Democrat Joe Biden by wide margins, President Trump said at the White House on Tuesday that he’s doing better than anyone realizes in his quest for reelection.
Trump criticized polls that currently show him an average of nearly ten points behind Biden nationally and insisted there is a “silent majority” that backs him. He also pointed to boat parades in Florida and biker groups led by his supporters as evidence of his popularity.
“You look at the Intracoastal in Florida, you look at the lakes, you see thousands of boats with Trump signs — American signs,” the president said at the tail-end of a lengthy and discursive press conference that the White House said would be about the U.S. relationship with China.
“You look at what’s going on, you look at bikers for miles and miles riding up highways proudly with their signs.”
The president made these remarks when a reporter asked if he believes he is “losing” to Biden.
While polls show Trump behind, some of the president’s Florida supporters organized a massive boat flotilla to celebrate his birthday last month. There is also a prominent Bikers For Trump group that has volunteered to provide security at his events.
But beyond the boating and biking communities, Trump is currently struggling against Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee and a former vice president. The president has endured weeks of controversies stemming from his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and nationwide protests over racial issues.
Trump’s press conference on Tuesday was ostensibly dedicated to steps his administration has taken to strike back against China as it attempts to assert control over Hong Kong, a municipality that has traditionally enjoyed a measure of independence from Beijing’s autocratic one-party system.
Trump described China’s handling of Hong Kong as “oppressive.” He also suggested an executive order he signed Tuesday ending preferential treatment for the Chinese territory, as well as various tariffs he has imposed, would stop Beijing from “taking advantage” of the U.S. And he criticized China’s handling of the pandemic, which originated there.
After briefly addressing the topic at hand, Trump entered into a rambling and largely political speech that touched on a variety of topics.
He criticized Biden’s handling of China as vice president as too lenient.
He also pointed to the policy recommendations crafted for Biden by a Democratic group that included supporters of progressive Sen. Bernie Sanders, who ran against the ex-vice president in the Democratic primary.
The president accused Biden of having “gone radical left” and described him as “really bizarre.” Trump also savaged New York for its handling of the coronavirus.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo emerged as a foil to Trump earlier, in large part due to his daily briefings explaining his state’s aggressive response to the virus while consistently downplaying the threat it posed. In recent months, New York –– once the epicenter of the pandemic –– has seen a dramatic drop in hospitalizations and deaths while states that took looser approaches are now enduring severe outbreaks.
As he offered an optimistic assessment of his prospects, Trump noted he was expected to lose in the last presidential election.
“We won a race where it was the same thing — 2016 — we had polls that were — they turned out to be fake,” Trump said.
“I think we’re doing very well in the polls and I think you have a silent majority the likes of which this country has never seen before. This is a very important election,” Trump said.
The president suggested polls didn’t reflect his base due to the fact people might not be eager to declare their support for him.
“I think that the enthusiasm now is greater and maybe far greater than it was in 2016,” Trump said.
“I think a lot of people don’t want to talk about it. I think they’re not going to say, ‘Hey I’m for Trump. I’m for Trump.’ They don’t want to go through the process and I fully understand that because the process is not fair. The media doesn’t treat us fairly. They never have and perhaps they never will.”
The president also vowed he would turn his electoral chances “around for a second time” and said it would “happen very quickly” because, he insisted, the economy will continue to rebound following the devastating impact of the initial pandemic lockdowns.
“I think by Election Day you’re going to see some incredible numbers. ... Next year is going to be one of the best economic years,” Trump said.
Trump argued he has “a great chance” to win and predicted the public will ultimately credit him for an economic recovery in the wake of the virus.
“So, hopefully I’ll be able to be the president where we say look at the great job I did.”
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