FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (AP/WNCN) — President Donald Trump plans to make his fourth visit in as many weeks to the battleground state of North Carolina to address a rally of supporters in Fayetteville.
Trump was set to address a crowd Saturday evening at the Fayetteville Regional Airport. He’s made other recent visits to Winston-Salem and Wilmington, as well as to Charlotte, where last month he addressed the Republican delegates who awarded him the GOP nomination.
Trump’s latest visit comes following Friday’s death of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The president on Saturday urged the Republican-led Senate to consider “without delay” his upcoming nomination to fill the court’s new vacancy about six weeks before the election.
Democrats said Republicans shouldn’t consider a Supreme Court choice in the run-up to a presidential election, following how GOP senators refused in 2016 to consider President Barack Obama’s nominee to succeed Justice Antonin Scalia.
The event also comes as polling continues to show the race between Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden is close in North Carolina.
Ahead of the event, White House trade advisor Peter Navarro told CBS 17 Trump will talk about North Carolina’s role in the country’s economic recovery and efforts locally to produce a COVID-19 vaccine.
The Trump campaign says people who will attend will be offered masks. At previous rallies, many people have not worn them or practiced social distancing.
“I can’t really speak to that. What I can speak to is what the message is: North Carolina is really a critical part of the economic recovery that we need,” Navarro said when asked about the president holding large in-person events amid the pandemic.
Earlier this week, state Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen said, “What we are asking is for folks who want to attend political events just do it safely, do it with social distancing and do it with masks.”
The Trump administration has launched Operation Warp Speed in an effort to produce a vaccine on an accelerated timeline. President Trump has suggested one could be ready in time for the election, but Dr. Anthony Fauci has said that’s “unlikely.”
Biden said this week, “I trust vaccines. I trust scientists. But, I don’t trust Donald Trump.”
Navarro said North Carolina is “an important part” of the vaccine development process and pushed back on Biden’s comments.
“To raise that kind of doubt in the American people when he has absolutely no information that would pertain to that, really if you were a lawyer, it would be malpractice,” said Navarro.
Biden’s campaign on Friday released a new television ad in North Carolina, trying to reach military communities, featuring retired Air Force Brig. Gen. John Douglas, who served as a casualty notification officer.
The ad comes in response to a report earlier this month in the Atlantic where Trump is quoted as describing fallen soldiers as “losers” and “suckers.”
Trump has denied making those comments, and several of his aides have said publicly they did not hear him say those things.
The event will begin at 6 p.m. at Fayetteville Regional Airport. Doors open at 3 p.m.
North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis, who is running for reelection, also plans to attend Saturday’s rally.