MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) – President Donald Trump wore his ‘Make America Great Again’ red hat as he addressed supporters during a rally in Tampa on Thursday afternoon.
Trump was introduced in Tampa by his wife, first lady Melania Trump, who praised her husband’s presidency, saying “under Donald’s leadership, we have blocked out the noise and focused on you, the American people.”
President Trump struck a slightly new tone on mask-wearing at the rally, telling a group of largely maskless, shoulder-to-shoulder supporters that he thinks wearing a mask is appropriate when social distancing isn’t possible.
After making the case that “lockdowns” to prevent the spread of coronavirus don’t work, Trump told rallygoers, “We know the disease. We social distance. We do all of the things that you have to do.”
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“If you get close, wear a mask. ‘Oh, it’s controversial.’ It’s not controversial to me. You get close, you wear a mask. Social distance, social distance,” he told the audience.
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The audience he delivered this message to was largely maskless. They were packed so tightly that several people required medical attention due to the heat and a nearby fire truck had to cool supporters down. His staff was also seen without masks.
Florida is all but essential to the Republican’s pathway to another term.
Nationwide, more than 73 million Americans have already voted, either by absentee or by mail.
Democratic rival Joe Biden also in Tampa, encouraged voters to turn out in person on Election Day next Tuesday.
Trump was celebrating a new federal estimate that the economy grew at a stunning 33.1% annual rate in the July-September quarter — by far the largest quarterly gain on record — making up ground from its epic plunge in the spring, when the eruption of the coronavirus closed businesses and threw tens of millions out of work.
“So glad this great GDP number came out before November 3rd,” Trump said in a tweet, predicting dire consequences if Biden is elected.
But economists warned that the economy is already weakening again and facing renewed threats as confirmed viral cases are surge, hiring has slowed and federal stimulus help has largely run out.
Trump is holding three rallies on Saturday in Pennsylvania before launching on a whirlwind tour of battlegrounds including Florida, Michigan, Georgia and Pennsylvania in the closing 48 hours of the race.
Nowhere may those efforts be more important than in Florida. Without the battleground state’s 29 electoral votes, Trump’s path to victory is exceptionally difficult.
(©2020 The Associated Press and Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company contributed to this report. All rights reserved.)