WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump shunned formal debate practice Tuesday and was heading instead for another of his big rallies, two days ahead of the final presidential debate that may be his last, best chance to alter the trajectory of the 2020 campaign.
The rally is expected to start at 7 P.M. ET. Watch it stream live in the player above.
In the leadup to Thursday’s faceoff in Nashville, Trump is trailing in polls in most battleground states as he works to pull off a repeat of his come-from-behind victory of 2016. Also trailing in fundraising for campaign ads, Trump is increasingly relying on his signature campaign rallies to deliver a closing message to voters and maximize turnout among his GOP base.
Trump was holding a rally Tuesday evening in Erie, Pennsylvania, a part of the state instrumental in his victory four years ago, when he was the first GOP candidate since Ronald Reagan to carry the county. Before leaving the White House, he was taping an interview with CBS’ “60 Minutes” and a town hall with local news conglomerate Sinclair that will air on Wednesday.
The debate comes as Trump has used his closing message to voters to defend his handling of the coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 220,000 Americans and to attack his Democratic rival for pledging to heed the advice of scientific experts.
Trump insisted Tuesday that he gets along with Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease specialist, while also complaining on “Fox & Friends” that the doctor who has clashed with him at times over the coronavirus is not a “team player.”
A day earlier, Trump said on a call with campaign aides that “People are tired of hearing Fauci and all these idiots,” adding of the doctor: “Every time he goes on television, there’s always a bomb. But there’s a bigger bomb if you fire him. But Fauci’s a disaster.”
Weissert reported from Wilmington, Delaware. AP writers Jill Colvin and Deb Riechmann in Washington contributed to this report.