YUMA, Arizona (Reuters) – Days after its first demonstration since the coronavirus pandemic drew a smaller crowd than expected, President Donald Trump touted the construction of a border wall when he visited Arizona on Tuesday despite the increasing number. of virus cases in the state.
United States President Donald Trump prepares to autograph a plaque commemorating the construction of the 200-mile border wall while visiting the wall on the United States-Mexico border in San Luis, Arizona, United States, June 23 2020. REUTERS / Carlos Barria
Trump, who narrowly won Arizona in 2016, is seeking to defend his position in the state, as opinion polls show that Republican President follows Democrat Joe Biden, and Republican Senator Martha McSally also behind Democratic challenger Mark Kelly.
Trump commemorated 200 miles of a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border during his official visit. Building the wall was a key promise from the 2016 Trump campaign that helped propel it to the White House.
“My administration has done more than any other administration in history to secure our southern border,” Trump said at a roundtable in Yuma with border and police officials before a tour of the newly built wall.
Later in Phoenix, he will meet with youth at Dream City Church. Trump depends in part on the support of evangelical Christians for his political strength and has promoted the reopening of churches, despite concerns about the spread of the virus between large group gatherings.
The trip is Trump’s third trip this year to Arizona, which had a record increase of more than 3,500 new cases of coronavirus on Tuesday. The state also saw record hospitalizations, registered intensive care patients, and a record number of ventilator patients.
The president and his aides have largely dismissed concerns about holding campaign events as the virus continues to spread in parts of the United States.
Trump’s rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Saturday brought thousands of people to an arena against the advice of health professionals, and several campaign staff members who were there tested positive for the virus.
Arizona has become one of the newest coronavirus hotspots in the United States since Republican Governor Doug Ducey issued an order to stay home on May 15.
Biden called Trump’s visit reckless when Arizona approved 50,000 confirmed cases and 1,300 deaths related to COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.
Yet once again, instead of doing the hard work necessary to resolve the economic and public health crisis facing the United States, Donald Trump remains focused on his costly, ineffective, and wasteful ‘wall’ on our southern border, ” he said in a statement.
Additional report by Andrew Hay and Lisa Shumaker in Chicago, written by Jeff Mason and Steve Holland; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall