LONDONDERRY, N.H. — One night after accepting the Republican nomination, Donald Trump resumed campaigning for reelection as though the coronavirus pandemic was a thing of the past, rallying hundreds of supporters at an airport hangar.
But with the virus looming over the race, the president for the first time acknowledged even the theoretical possibility of defeat.
“If Biden wins, which I honestly can’t believe would happen, I will have lost to a low IQ individual,” Trump told a boisterous crowd in the low hundreds gathered at Manchester-Boston Regional Airport.
His standing position has been that “the only way we’re going to lose this election is if this election is rigged.”
The president’s supporters stood shoulder to shoulder, most not wearing face masks that health experts say can help prevent the spread of COVID-19, which has killed more than 181,000 Americans. On Friday, more than 45,000 new cases were reported in the U.S.
Yet Trump seemed eager to pack more people into his rally, boasting that on his approach to the airport he had seen “thousands and thousands” more supporters lined up who were denied entry out of health concerns, a twist on his usual rally mantra, that “fire marshals” had limited the size of his audience.
“Sir, we couldn’t let them in,” Trump said, recounting what he said an aide had told him, to which he said he responded, “Why not? Let ’em in.”
Brenda Guvin, a retiree from Londonderry, was one of those who did make it inside. She wore a red Trump face mask that had been distributed by the campaign — wrapped around her wrist — and said she wasn’t worried about standing in the packed crowd without a mask.
“I’m not. I’m really not. I’m 74, I’ve had all the tests. I’m fine,” Guvin told Yahoo News. “I don’t know anybody that’s had it. So, we’ll see, but I don’t think there’s going to be any problems.”
Trump spent a good portion of his remarks on the subject that his campaign clearly sees as his best bet to help him close the polling gap with Biden, blasting “Democrat-run cities” where protests over police killings of African-Americans have sometimes turned violent.