Presidential Election 2020

USA Election 2020: when will Donald Trump return to the campaign?

President Trump likely to return to the electoral campaign Monday, skipping a rally on Saturday which he'd hoped to attend, scuppered by covid-19 infection.

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USA Election 2020: when will Donald Trump return to the campaign?
@realDonaldTrump @realDonaldTrump via REUTERS

Many people thought US president Donald Trump would be away from the spotlight for longer after he contracted Covid-19, but with mere weeks until the election, he's desperate to be back already, and with a healthy dose of confidence. "I'm back because I'm a perfect physical specimen”, he proudly said in a phone interview with Fox Business after claiming that this weekend he would return to the electoral campaign despite his infection with coronavirus.

On Thursday night, the president told Fox News, in what was an admittedly rambling and scatter-gun phone-in interview, he will likely take a covid-19 test on Friday and will try to hold a campaign rally on Saturday, possibly in Florida, "if we have enough time to put it together."

This optimistic message was shattered on Friday afternoon however, when word got out that the president would not be travelling to Florida Saturday for the rally, after all and instead hopes to be back on the campaign trail Monday, raising suspicion about why the change of plan in such a short time.

Dr Conley: Trump "remained stable"

Trump’s physician, Dr Sean Conley,  said in a statement released on Thursday that the president “has completed his course of treatment for covid-19” and that he has “responded extremely well to medication and has remained stable”.

Conley had been optimistic about Trump's return on the weekend, before things changed on Friday. "Saturday will be day 10 since Thursday's diagnosis, and based on the trajectory of advanced diagnostics the team has been conducting, I fully anticipate the president's safe return to public engagements at that time," Conley said.

Other experts have pointed out that the disease can suddenly worsen after several days, even where a patient appears to be on the road to recovery.

Back-and-forth on second presidential debate unresolved

Given Trump’s illness, the agenda for the next and final two debates between Trump and Biden has been delayed. The first move came when the Commission on Presidential Debates announced candidates would take part in the Miami debate on 15 October "from separate remote locations to protect the health and safety of all involved".

Trump was instantly hostile to the new plan and said he was pulling out of the debate. "A virtual debate is a joke, there is no reason, I am in great shape," he said in his first interview since being released from the hospital, adding that he was "not going to waste my time on a virtual debate”.

Former VP Mr Biden then said the president "changed his mind every second", while the Democrat candidate’s campaign team added that Trump "clearly does not want to face questions from the voters".

The Trump campaign team answered back, saying the Commission's decision to rush to Joe Biden's defence was "pathetic," and added that the president would hold a rally instead on the same date.

Biden and his team then proposed the town-hall style debate, set for Miami, should go ahead on 22 October instead.

Trump then agreed to delay the debate to October 22. His team also insisted that the third debate should take place on October 29, just days before the November 3 election.

What happens next between Trump and Biden?

Trump’s team could very well be playing a strategy game on the virus, accusing his political opponents of the same charges they make against him. Even if the president said he will not take part in a virtual debate, according to political experts it is very unlikely Trump is going to refuse the chance to address an audience of 80 million people.

However, as of the time of publication, the state of play is that the October 15 event is still on, with Biden looking forward to “speaking directly to the American people,” his deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield said in a statement.

If the 90-minute debate finally goes ahead, it will be at the event’s original location, the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami. The debate will take the form of a town hall event, with Miami citizens in the audience posing their own questions to both candidates.

The last presidential debate is scheduled to be at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, on October 22 at 9pm ET. It will last for 90 minutes with no commercial breaks.