SANFORD, Fla. — The Trump campaign rally that had been planned for Friday evening in Central Florida was canceled just hours after President Donald Trump announced on Twitter that he had tested positive for the coronavirus.
President Donald Trump tweeted just before 1 a.m. Friday that both he and first lady Melania Trump tested positive, just hours after news broke that close aide Hope Hicks had also tested positive.
The Central Florida rally was set to take place at Orlando Sanford International Airport in Sanford in what many political experts consider the most important region of the most important swing state to win the election.
With just one month to go until the election, Trump’s coronavirus diagnosis is expected to be a major setback on the campaign trail.
Visiting key battleground states such as Florida are crucial to garnering as much support as possible with just weeks to spare until Election Day.
Empty bleachers now greet the passing by planes behind the Million Air hangar at Orlando Sanford International Airport.
“We often think in our mind that the leader of the free world is often protected from whatever illnesses are out there, whatever risks are out there, but I think it’s a moment of very difficult reality,” Central Florida based political analyst Frank Torres said.
He said the president’s coronavirus exposure will shake up the campaign trail.
“I do believe he’ll do some limited amount of virtual campaigning. You can expect to see some videos coming from him,” Torres said.
Seminole County Republican Party Chairman Linda Trocine said 2016 was a close one.
“In 2016, we voted for the president just a little over 1 percent,” Trocine said.
With just weeks until Election Day, Torres said Trump will have to work hard as much as he can to win over Florida voters and the country.
“He’s going to have to work to make up a lot of time, and he’s going to have to do it in an especially precautious way, because you certainly can’t allow this risk to happen again,” Torres said.
He said we can expect to see other members of the president’s family out and about campaigning for him while he’s in quarantine.
It’s unclear if the Sanford rally will be rescheduled. Trump and others in his inner circle are currently under quarantine. Vice President Mike Pence and his wife, who traveled with Trump to his first presidential debate with Democratic rival Joe Biden earlier this week, said Friday morning that they had tested negative. Biden and his wife also said they tested negative.
Trump has continued to reassure Americans that we are “rounding the corner” of this pandemic, although national health experts do not agree.
Top aide Hicks traveled with the president multiple times during his busy week, including aboard Marine One, the presidential helicopter, and on Air Force One to a rally in Minnesota on Wednesday. She was also aboard Air Force One en route to Tuesday night’s debate in Cleveland.
Hicks began feeling mild symptoms during the plane ride home that evening, according to an administration official who spoke to the Associated Press anonymously. The source said she was isolated from other passengers.
Pence tweeted overnight his support for Trump and the first lady, praying for a full recovery.