Top Trump aide says president is ‘eager to return to the campaign trail’ amid reports a planned rally was scrapped

Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh held a press conference call with reporters on Tuesday where he said the president is “eager to return to the campaign trail and to keep campaigning and keep connecting with Americans.” 

The phone call came just as CNN reported that the Trump campaign had canceled plans to hold a rally in Alabama next weekend due to concerns about rising numbers of coronavirus infections. When asked about the CNN report later Tuesday afternoon, Murtaugh said, “We don’t comment about rally planning.” 

Murtaugh said on the call that Trump is planning to hold more of his signature rallies, and touted the president’s performance by contrasting it with his Democratic rival Joe Biden. 

Trump at a recent campaign rally in Tulsa, Okla. (Go Nakamura/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

“That is where he is, is most effective and is without question more effective than Joe Biden,” Murtaugh said of campaign rallies. “It’s no secret that Joe Biden, the Democrats and many in the national media would love to keep President Trump off the campaign trail, but he is determined to keep meeting Americans in person and speaking to them directly.”

Recent polls show Trump trailing Biden by double digits both nationally and in some key states. In response, Trump has tweeted that polls showing him behind Biden are a “joke” and that his private polling shows him doing well. 

Questions about future campaigning arose after Trump held a rally in Tulsa, Okla., on June 20. It was the president’s first rally since early March and the largest indoor event in the country since the coronavirus lockdowns began. 

The rally was marked by disappointing attendance that has fueled internal tensions on the president’s campaign team. A number of staffers who were involved in setting up the event and a pair of Secret Service agents also tested positive for the virus.

On the call, Murtaugh was asked if he had any specifics on where or when Trump might try to hold another event, but he declined to provide details. 

“As far as time, and place and actual locations of rallies, that’s something that we are always looking at and always planning and always considering,” he said, adding, “We have never had a practice of announcing a rally until it is confirmed and ready to go, so we have never commented on our deliberations.”

Joe Biden at a campaign event on Tuesday in Wilmington, Del. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Murtaugh’s call was mainly focused on a speech and press conference Biden held in Delaware on Tuesday afternoon. He highlighted a list of questions that the Trump campaign had wanted to hear Biden answer at the event. 

Murtaugh also criticized Biden for not having had a press availability in over three months and criticized the former vice president’s record, particularly on past disease outbreaks and China. Murtaugh argued that this undermined Biden’s critiques of Trump’s coronavirus response. 

“He has done nothing but lob partisan grenades from his basement in Delaware while facing very little scrutiny for his own record,“ Murtaugh said of Biden.

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