Trump plays down virus as he steps up pitch for second term

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By AAMER MADHANI and ZEKE MILLER Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Gone are the days when President Donald Trump held forth daily at the White House podium flanked by members of his coronavirus task force. And the days when Vice President Mike Pence and other task force officials would head to Trump’s office to brief him immediately after their meetings.

The White House won’t say when Trump last met with the task force.

In the week since he emerged from coronavirus isolation, Trump has demonstrated new determination to minimize the threat of the virus that has killed more than 215,000 Americans and complicated his chances of winning another four years in the White House.

“The light at the end of the tunnel is near. We are rounding the turn,” Trump told supporters Friday at an event in Fort Myers, Florida, one of many moments during a week of campaigning in which the president tried to play down the virus threat. “Don’t listen to the cynics and angry partisans and pessimists.”

In word and action, he is pushing an optimistic outlook at a moment when coronavirus infections are spiking in Europe and public health officials are raising alarm that the infection rate in the U.S. is…



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