President Donald Trump on Saturday afternoon made his first public appearance since returning to the White House on Monday after a three-day hospital stay after testing positive for COVID-19.
Trump spoke from the White House balcony at an event called “peaceful protest for law and order,” which was attended by several hundred people standing on the lawn below. The President’s public appearance is seen as the first step towards resuming a full-fledged election campaign next week.
The White House said in an official statement that the President gave a speech “to peaceful demonstrators in support of law and order.”
“Since taking office, President Trump has steadfastly committed to restoring law and order to our country, working with state and local law enforcement to protect our communities and the rights of all Americans,” the White House said.
During the speech, Trump focused on what his administration has done for racial and ethnic minorities over the past four years, including “lowering the unemployment rate on a record, achieving historically low levels of poverty, implementing criminal justice reform, making billions of investments through opportunity zones, and supporting school choice.”
On Monday, Trump is planning a rally as part of his campaign in Central Florida, the state where he plans to win the election.
Speaking on Fox News on Friday night, Trump said he was tested again for the virus, but did not disclose the result. He also said that he stopped taking medication to fight COVID-19. “I feel really strong,” the President said.
The White House has not released the results of Trump’s latest test and declined to say when the President last tested negative.
Trump and his administration have been criticized for their lax approach to fighting the pandemic, wearing masks, and social distancing in the White House.
Biden sharply criticized Trump’s decision to resume the campaign. “Godspeed. I wouldn’t appear [in public] if you don’t have a mask and you don’t know how to distance yourself,” he said, speaking to reporters in Paradise, Nevada.