Trump tricked reporters into covering a 'rambling' and 'disjointed' campaign rally in the Rose Garden

Trump in the Rose Garden
(Image credit: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images)

"In theory, President Trump summoned television cameras to the heat-baked Rose Garden early Tuesday evening to announce new measures against China to punish it for its oppression of Hong Kong," Peter Baker writes at The New York Times. "What followed instead was an hour of presidential stream of consciousness. ... Even for a president who rarely sticks to the script and wanders from thought to thought, it was one of the most rambling performances of his presidency."

Trump "began his rambling 54-minute opening statement" with his China announcement but "pivoted swiftly to his attacks on [Joe] Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee," The Washington Post adds. He meandered through a "false or misleading" summary of Biden's policy proposals, claiming at one point, for example, that Biden would "abolish the suburbs."

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Trump's "disjointed monologue" touched on "China and the coronavirus and the Paris climate change accord and crumbling highways," Baker recaps. "And the economy and energy taxes and trade with Europe and illegal immigration and his friendship with Mexico's president. And the coronavirus again and then immigration again and crime in Chicago and the death penalty. ... 'We could go on for days,' he said at one point, and it sounded plausible."

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By tradition if not law, presidents don't overtly campaign for re-election from the White House, as Fox News anchor Bret Baier noted after Trump's speech.

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But Trump's political advisers have spent weeks urging him to transform the race from "a referendum on the divisive president" to a contrast between competing visions, The Associated Press reports. Trump also called the impromptu "press conference" because Biden had "received extensive television coverage earlier in the day for his $2 trillion climate plan," the Times reports, citing a senior official.

The event was essentially a "substitute" for the campaign rally Trump "was scheduled to give last weekend in New Hampshire only to cancel amid concerns about flagging attendance, citing a possible storm at the site," Baker reports. "Instead of a raucous crowd," AP adds, "Trump spent more than an hour speaking in front of reporters."

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