Trump heads for New England rallies after outbreak on Pence's staff

Donald Trump heads for rallies in New Hampshire and Maine after new poll shows him tied with Joe Biden in TEXAS as White House scrambles to contain virus outbreak among Mike Pence’s staff

  • The president is holding a string of rallies in the final spring to Election Day
  • His first event is in New Hampshire, where he trails Joe Biden in polls
  • Campaign added an event in Maine, where Trump can try to peel off an electoral vote
  • Republican Sen. Susan Collins is in a tough reelection fight there 

President Donald Trump headed out for a pair of large airport rallies in New England Sunday as the White House contended with a coronavirus outbreak among Vice President Mike Pence’s staff.

Trump’s trip takes him to an outdoor airport rally in New Hampshire, a state where polling has been sparse but where Democrat Joe Biden leads him by an average of 11 percentage points.

The president also heads to Maine, which divides its electoral college votes by congressional district, and Trump has a chance of picking up a single vote if can can carry the district that includes Bangor like he did in 2016. 

Supporters cheer as US President Donald Trump arrive to speak during a campaign rally at Pickaway Agriculture and Event Center in Circleville, Ohio on October 24, 2020. Trump has a pair of campaign events planned Sunday, even as the White House struggles to contain an outbreak of coronavirus among aides to Vice President Mike Pence

He also visited Maine this summer and claimed he saved the states lobster industry, touting funding to fishermen under the CARES act, although Maine’s lobster industry hit a high in 2016. 

The backdrop was more concern about the coronavirus outbreak, with White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows telling CNN that the vice president ‘will be wearing a mask today’ after exposure to Pence Chief of Staff Mark Short. 

Short is one of four Pence aides plus an outside advisor who tested positive for COVID-19.

But Meadows struggled to explain why Pence would continue his own travel – he heads to North Carolina Sunday – after admitting he was exposed to his top aide. 

Vice President Mike Pence (left) will continue to campaign  this week after his Chief of Staff Marc Short (right) tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday

While speaking briefly to reporters on the White House driveway, Meadows said, ‘He (Pence) was cleared by the doctors to travel’

He said Pence was considered an ‘essential employee’ that therefore was exempt from Centers for Disease Control guidelines.

Two new polls released Sunday had Trump trailing Biden nationally – and a Dallas Morning News poll has Biden leading Trump 48 to 45 per cent. 

A new USC / Dornsife poll has Biden leading Trump by 10 points nationally, 53 to 43, while an IDB / TIPP poll has the lead at 6, 51 to 45.

CBS / YouGov polls gave Biden tight leads in Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina.  

Trump and Pence are both on the road, with Pence campaigning in North Carolina – one of several states Trump carried in 2016 that is now in jeopardy.

Pence’s office said he tested negative for COVID-19 Sunday, even as Meadows refused to provide details on precisely how many aides are infected. He said contact tracing was underway, although several figures during the outbreak at the superspreader event for Judge Amy Coney Barrett said contact tracing did not occur following that outbreak. 

Short, along with a senior political adviser and three other members of the vice president’s staff have tested positive for coronavirus.

Short’s diagnosis was first reported on Saturday night by Bloomberg – the same outlet that broke the news of Hope Hicks’ infection on September 29.

Pence’s office later confirmed Short’s diagnosis – with the fact that the White House did not announce the news raising eyebrows.

On Saturday night the New York Times reported that two people briefed on the matter said that the White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, had sought to keep news of the outbreak from becoming public. 

A wild card is how Trump’s trip will play for Collins in Maine. Trump attacked her on Twitter earlier this month. ‘There is a nasty rumor out there that @SenatorCollins of Maine will not be supporting our great United States Supreme Court Nominee,’ Trump tweeted.

‘Well, she didn’t support Healthcare or my opening up 5000 square miles of Ocean to Maine, so why should this be any different. Not worth the work!’ Trump added. 

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