In 7News interview, Trump discusses COVID pandemic, Florida election battle

MIAMI (WSVN) - With less than three weeks before the general election, President Donald Trump went on the record with 7News about several urgent issues, including his administration’s fight against COVID-19 and the upcoming showdown at the polls in Florida.

The commander in chief spoke with 7News anchor Craig Stevens moments before he left the White House for a day of campaign appearances, culminating with a townhall in downtown Miami, Thursday night.

On the heels of Democratic opponent Joe Biden’s visit to South Florida earlier this week, Trump has returned to the region to energize his supporters in the Sunshine State.

“I think we’re doing well with everybody,” he said.

However, recent polling suggests the president has been losing ground in Florida, particularly among the state’s seniors, who are unhappy about the administration’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

A recent University of North Florida survey of likely voters shows that among those over 65 years old, Trump edges out Biden 50% to 47%. Four years ago, he enjoyed a 14-point lead in that demographic.

That’s potentially worrisome for his campaign, because Florida’s retirees are a huge voting block, and they were a big part of his winning coalition in 2016.

Trump believes his own experience battling COVID has helped him win over some of these voters.

“I just got better myself, and it’s not exactly a wonderful feeling, I can tell you that,” he said. “Now that the seniors are seeing the kind of job we’re doing with the vaccines and the therapeutics, I think that the seniors are really liking the job we’re doing.”

On the heels of receiving clearance from the White House doctor, the president is throwing himself into a campaign barnstorm in this final stretch, raising more than a few eyebrows for hosting rallies that often defy safety recommendations made by experts, including the White House Coronavirus Task Force.

When asked whether he has considered changing course on how his rallies are held, Trump replied, “Well, with Biden, he doesn’t have to worry about it, ’cause nobody shows up to his rallies, so they can have social distancing, and we’re having these tremendous rallies, and they are outdoors. I mean, everyone said, science has said, keep ’em outdoors, and we don’t know of any difficulty we’ve had.”

Perhaps not at campaign events, though the same might not be said for the Rose Garden ceremony announcing the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.

The president, first lady Melania Trump and several other attendees later tested positive. Many weren’t wearing masks.

At rallies, some wear masks; some don’t.

“I see a lot of masks. In fact, we hand out masks, but I see a lot of masks,” said Trump. “Dr. [Anthony] Fauci said, ‘Don’t wear a mask,’ previously, then he changed his mind.”

This is one area where Trump hasn’t changed his mind, even in the face of numbers that show steep increases in the number of cases in parts of U.S., as well as a new surge in Europe.

“It’s a tricky thing. Look, we’re rounding the corner,” he said.

While he may still have work to do shoring up support among seniors, the president believes he is making inroads elsewhere, and he points to Miami’s exile community.

“We’re seeing tremendous numbers with Hispanics,” he said. “They like the job I’m doing with respect to their freedoms, and with respect to being really tough on Cuba, because Obama and Biden made a terrible deal with Cuba, very unfair, but we’re doing very well with Hispanic voters.”

Trump is scheduled to take part in an hourlong NBC News town hall at the Pérez Art Museum Miami, beginning at 8 p.m.

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