President Donald Trump repeatedly denied during a raucous Thursday night campaign rally in Pennsylvania that he suffered a stroke last year – even though it hasn’t been reported by any major news outlets that he ever did.
Adding to the confusion surrounding the 74-year-old president’s health, Trump also told the largely maskless crowd in the Pittsburgh suburb of Latrobe that he hopes he’ll survive if he were to ever suffer a heart attack.
“It could happen someday, OK? When it does, I hope things work out,” Trump said to roars from the audience members, who were packed close together on an airport runway.
The president’s health has come into renewed focus since an excerpt from an upcoming book revealed that Vice President Mike Pence was told to be on standby to take over the powers of the presidency in case Trump had to undergo anesthesia during his mysterious trip to Walter Reed Medical Center in Maryland in November.
The book, by New York Times reporter Michael Schmidt, does not say that Trump had suffered a stroke ahead of the hospital visit, the reason for which has never been explained by the White House.
But that hasn’t stopped Trump from spending the past three days incorrectly claiming that the book did say so.
He kept at it during the Thursday night rally.
“It’s totally false, totally false. They still go with it,” Trump said. “I don’t know much about a mini-stroke … but I assume if you have a mini-stroke, you’re not heading back to the White House, right?”
Trump’s Pennsylvania visit came just two months ahead of November’s presidential election. Pennsylvania is one of several key swing states that Trump and Joe Biden are expected to battle for on November 3.
Beyond his self-created health scandal, Trump – who’s trailing Biden in most general election polls – spent a large chunk of the event pushing his hardline “law and order” pitch for re-election, as the coronavirus continues to crush the US economy and kill thousands of Americans every week.
“Biden’s plan is to appease the domestic terrorists, and my plan is to arrest them and prosecute them,” Trump said, referring to protesters demonstrating against this year’s police shootings of black Americans. “That’s why the rioters are voting for Biden, and the law enforcement people … they are all voting for me.”