President Donald Trump made a thinly-veiled campaign stop in the Triangle Monday afternoon, visiting a Morrisville facility working to manufacture a coronavirus vaccine but mostly trying to fish his slipping state polling numbers out of the toilet.
In doing so, Trump skipped the funeral of longtime Congressman and civil rights icon John Lewis, whose body lay in state at the U.S. Capitol Rotunda on Monday. “No, I won’t be going. No,” Trump told reporters in D.C. when asked if he would be attending Lewis’s service.
Wearing his usual grimace but without a face mask, Trump exited his massive blue presidential jet in North Carolina Monday afternoon and sauntered down the steps from the aircraft—his hair seemingly cemented to his head as the oversized striped-tie around his neck flapped in the wind.
“America will develop a vaccine very soon and we will defeat the virus. We will have it defeated in record time,” Trump rambled to a gaggle of press at a facility working to manufacture a coronavirus vaccine. “As our visit here demonstrates, and I want to thank all of the people and representatives from the great state of North Carolina. This is a great place. It’s a phenomenal place and we’ve had so many great meetings and such a great time.”
Trump was chauffeured to Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies in Morrisville, a pharmaceutical manufacturer in Research Triangle Park. Earlier this month, the Trump administration awarded a $1.6 billion contract to Maryland-based pharmaceutical company Novavax to manufacture 100 million doses of the company’s coronavirus vaccine once it’s ready; last week, Novavax announced an agreement with Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies to manufacture the vaccine.
During his appearance on Monday, Trump announced a further $265 million to Fujifilm to expand its vaccine manufacturing.
Trump’s visit in the name of “science” drove a flock of about 300 MAGA-hat wearing fanatics to rally on Davis Drive. “Few among the crowd wore masks,” a News & Observer article noted.
On that note, Monday’s visit could also be seen as a visit to possibly rescue Trump’s falling approval in the Tarheel State, which voted for him over Hillary Clinton by more than 170,000 votes in 2016. An NBC News/Marist poll released Monday found Democratic nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden with a seven-point lead over Trump in North Carolina, as well as big leads for Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Cal Cunningham over Senator Thom Tillis and Governor Roy Cooper over Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest in the gubernatorial race.
Recent polling has indicated that Trump’s re-election bid is in trouble after his bungling of the coronavirus pandemic and recent protests for racial justice around the United States. In North Carolina, he likely hasn’t been helped by a spat with Cooper which resulted in the Republican National Convention being moved from Charlotte to Jacksonville before it was canceled last week.
Trump downplayed his tanking poll numbers on Monday. “I think our poll numbers are very good,” he said.
It looks like his campaign isn’t taking any chances: On Wednesday, Vice President Mike Pence will visit Thales Academy in Apex to promote school choice, according to the News & Observer. The general election campaign, it seems, is finally here.
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Is anyone going to talk about the interview WRAL did with Dr. Gregory Glenn, head of research and development for Novavax when Trump visited Morrisville on Monday? Asked whether they will have enough of the vaccine, Glenn said yes because it is “Probably for people 18 and older. Not kids.” When asked why it is not for kids, he said, ‘They don’t seem to get — I’m a pediatrician. They don’t seem to get infected. They don’t seem to transmit it. Very few kids do get infected so I just don’t think that’s going to be a good investment for the vaccine.”
Video here: https://www.wral.com/coronavirus/trump-applauds-speed-of-coronavirus-vaccine-development-in-morrisville-visit/19207129/
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