Trump hits campaign trail in NC amid mounting coronavirus threat

(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) — President Donald Trump is back on the campaign trial Monday night for another counter programming rally, this time in Charlotte, North Carolina, the day before Super Tuesday, as his administration continues to work to combat the growing threat of the novel coronavirus.

The president’s rally at the Bojangles Coliseum marks his return to North Carolina since his rally in Fayetteville last September. The Republican National Convention will also be held in Charlotte later this year.

But Monday’s rally comes as the president faces a escalating crisis as the coronavirus death total rises in the United States, with King County, Washington declaring a state of emergency after it revealed it had 14 confirmed cases of the virus, which resulted in five deaths.

Trump and his administration have worked to calm fears, with the president saying over the weekend that a vaccine is being developed “very quickly” and “very rapidly.” However, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, cautioned last week that the process is likely to take “about a year to a year and a half.”

As he departed from the White House to Charlotte, Trump perhaps offered a preview of his rally speech, slamming his rivals and claiming that Democrats were rigging the nomination against Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.

“I think it’s rigged against Bernie, but maybe he’ll pull it through,” Trump told reporters. “It was rigged against me four years ago and I pulled it through. I think it’s rigged against Bernie.”

The president also commented former Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s reported plans to endorse Joe Biden, claiming that since the former vice president said he’d “like to see him part of whatever I do,” that constitutes a quid pro quo.

“That’s called “quid pro quo,” right? Quid Pro quo. And they probably said, hey listen, if I win, I’ll give you an endorsement, but will you take me in the administration?” Trump said before departing from the White House. “it’s rigged against Bernie, there’s no question about it. Sounds like it’s a little bit unfair. I’ll see you in North Carolina,” he added.

In the days leading up to Monday’s event, the president has fired back against Democrats, claiming their politicization of the coronavirus is their “new hoax.”

And Democrats have jumped at the chance to criticize the president’s handling of the issue. Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, who will be on the ballot for the first time this Tuesday, ran a three-minute ad on NBC and CBS on Sunday night, slamming the president for his handling of the crisis.

For his part, Trump’s been focused on the billionaire in the recent days — tweeting, at one point, six times about Bloomberg in a 24-hour period, calling for him to drop out after Biden’s commanding victory in South Carolina.

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