Donald Trump marked his return to public rallies on Saturday with a speech from the White House balcony in which he attempted to put his hospitalisation for Covid-19 behind him and appeal to black and Latino voters.

“I’m feeling great,” he declared to hundreds of supporters on the South Lawn wearing “Back the Blue” tops and waving flags, with many wearing masks and chanting “Four more years!”

The president has been trying to convince Americans he is Covid-free and fit to campaign again as he seeks to narrow a large polling gap with Democratic challenger Joe Biden less than a month from the election.

Although Mr Trump’s Covid-19 status remains unclear following his hospitalisation a week ago, he plans to resume big rallies in swing states from Monday with an event near Orlando, Florida. His campaign said he would also deliver remarks at rallies in Pennsylvania on Tuesday and Iowa on Wednesday.

On Saturday, Mr Trump delivered a campaign speech in which he hewed to familiar themes — including defending law enforcement and opposing “socialism”. This was despite White House officials insisting the proceedings constituted an “official event” with no campaign staff in attendance. Staging a campaign event would risk an ethics breach by using the trappings of government for partisan political activity.

The event was partly organised by Candace Owens, a conservative commentator who champions “Blexit” — a call for African Americans and other minorities to abandon longtime support of the Democratic Party.

Black voters have overwhelmingly supported Democratic presidential candidates in recent elections, and turnout among African Americans is seen as crucial to the outcome of November’s elections.

Data compiled by the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research indicates African American support for the Democratic presidential candidate has averaged 91 per cent over the five presidential elections since 2000, with Republicans securing 8 per cent on average.

“Black and Latino Americans are rejecting the radical socialist left, and they’re embracing our pro-jobs, pro-worker, pro-police — we want law and order; we have to have law and order — and pro-American agenda,” Mr Trump said.

“If the left gains power, they will launch a nationwide crusade against law enforcement,” Mr Trump claimed, adding: “We cannot allow our country to become a socialist nation, or worse.”

The president added the country would defeat “this terrible China virus”, his term for Covid-19, the disease which has killed more than 210,000 Americans and hospitalised Mr Trump last weekend.

The president did a round of Fox News interviews on Friday in which he declared that he had made a full recovery. But coronavirus experts warn that an infected patient could still spread the virus for 10 days or more, depending on the severity of the case.

Mr Trump, who is 74, trails the 77-year-old Mr Biden in most national opinion polls and many battleground states that are key to winning the Electoral College.

Saturday’s White House rally comes two weeks after a Rose Garden ceremony for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett that some officials believe resulted in the infection of several high-ranking Republicans with coronavirus.

Anthony Fauci, the US’s leading infectious disease expert, told CBS News Radio on Friday their infections were the product of a “superspreader event at the White House”, where many of the attendees did not wear masks.

Mr Biden spoke later on Saturday at his own campaign event in the key swing state of Pennsylvania, where he is from, after securing a negative coronavirus test earlier in the day.

Mr Biden vowed to make investments to “grow the middle class back and make sure everyone comes along this time”, as he rattled through a series of campaign pledges to arrest the decline in jobs.

He said the country was undergoing “the most unequal recovery in American history” as it seeks to emerge from the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, arguing top billionaires had profited from the crisis.

“There’s only one way to deal with the abuse of power, which corporate America is exercising now: it’s with power,” Mr Biden said. “And the only power we have is union power,” he added, in comments calculated to appeal to workers.

Additional reporting by Lauren Fedor and Courtney Weaver in Washington


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