President Donald Trump flew to the critical battleground state of Florida Friday, a state battling with a dramatic uptick in coronavirus cases, to highlight his administration’s efforts to halt drug trafficking from Central and South America.
Watch the briefing in the video player above.
The president has sought to highlight efforts to curb the flow of drugs as part of his re-election effort, but the event will likely be overshadowed by the state’s struggle with a new surge in coronavirus cases, making it the global epicenter of the pandemic following its reopening.
Florida reported 93 more deaths from COVID-19 on Friday as the pandemic continues to spread.
Trump arrived in Doral, Florida, where he toured the U.S. Southern Command and attended a briefing on anti-drug trafficking in South America before hosting a roundtable discussion on Venezuela at the nearby Iglesia Doral Jesus Worship Center. The latter event is aimed at courting Hispanic voters ahead of the November election.
Without calling attention to the virus pandemic in Florida, Trump said the coronavirus pandemic had disrupted drug interdiction efforts.
“But before it hit, we were doing really well,” Trump said. “Unfortunately, the shutdowns caused by the China virus have led to a recent rise in overdose deaths.”
Later he will attend a private political fundraiser in Hillsboro Beach, just outside Miami.
Trump, trailing in the polls, is eager to signal that normal life can resume despite a rampaging virus that has killed more than 130,000 Americans.
His visit to Florida takes him to terrain where COVID-19’s surge threatens his hold on a must-win state and raises questions about Republican aims to hold their nominating convention in Jacksonville next month.