President Donald Trump visited the U.S.-Mexico border on Tuesday and tried to attribute the arrest of undocumented immigration and the coronavirus to his new wall.
In the scorching heat, Trump paused briefly to inspect a new section of the concrete structure and rebar where the President and other officials took a moment to scrawl their signatures on the wall.
“It stopped COVID, it stopped everything,” Trump said.
Trump was looking to regain momentum for the campaign after his weekend rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, which was supposed to be a sign of the nation’s reopening. However, the low turnout at the rally sharpened the focus on Trump’s visit to Arizona, which functions as a 2020 battlefield state and a growing coronavirus hot spot.
Visiting the border, Trump sought to change the subject to an issue that he believes will help electrify his base in November.
“Our border has never been safer,” Trump said when he met with Republican Arizona Governor Doug Ducey and federal Border Patrol officials.
Later in the day, Trump addressed a group of young Republicans in a megachurch in Phoenix. The “Students for Trump” event at Dream City Church is part of a special project by Turning Point Action, a group chaired by Trump ally Charlie Kirk.
Campaign officials emphasized that such protests would remain a staple of the president’s reelection strategy, but allowed them to change slightly in certain states. They were debating whether to have them in more modest places or outdoors, perhaps in airplane hangars and amphitheatres, or in smaller cities far from potential protesters.
Trump’s visit to the Phoenix church comes the same day that Vice President Mike Pence began a faith-focused tour, highlighting the central position that religious conservatives, particularly white evangelicals, but also right-wing Catholics, continue occupying at the base of the president. . However, even when the Trump campaign openly wooes religious voters, there are signs of softer support among voting blocs that the president cannot afford to lose.
Trump’s focus on building his much-promised border wall is also intended to shore up support from his most loyal supporters.
His administration has promised to build 450 miles (724 km) by the end of the year, but that seems unlikely. The government has awarded more than $ 6.1 billion in construction contracts since April 2019 for various projects along the border. It has also given up on procurement rules that critics say make the multi-million dollar contract award process secret and opaque.
Throughout the trip, the COVID-19 pandemic is hiding Trump. Since late May, Arizona has become one of the most active hot spots in the country for the spread of COVID-19, with troubling trends at various benchmarks, including the percentage of tests that test positive for the virus, which is the highest in the country.
The state reported a new daily record of nearly 3,600 additional cases of coronavirus on Tuesday as Arizona continued to set records for the number of people hospitalized, intensive care and ventilated for COVID-19. The total number of Arizona cases in the pandemic has reached at least 58,179, with 42 more deaths reported Tuesday, bringing the number of deaths to 1,384.