Trump scrambles to get re-election campaign back on track

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US President crashes markets by halting talks on stimulus package, as polls indicate win for challenger

WASHINGTON : President Donald Trump defied the Covid-19 virus, disastrous opinion polls, and new economic turmoil on Tuesday in a stormy return from hospitalisation, while surging challenger Joe Biden appealed for Americans to unite against the "forces of darkness".

There have been few tougher days for Mr Trump since he came to power after his shock 2016 election win.

Still being treated with a powerful cocktail of drugs for the coronavirus after three nights in hospital, he was scrambling to get his re-election campaign back on track ahead of the Nov 3 election - just four weeks away.

The latest polls forecast a huge victory for Mr Biden. CNN's new survey gave the Democrat a national advantage of 57 per cent to 41 per cent among likely voters, with women voters going 66 to 32 per cent in his favour.

Mr Biden's advance comes as Mr Trump has been forced off the campaign trail after falling ill to the virus that has already killed some 210,000 Americans.

With what White House doctors describe as his rapid recovery, Mr Trump is doubling down on his controversial position that Covid-19 is taken too seriously, painting himself as a fighter who took on the virus and easily won.

After telling Americans in a speech from the White House balcony on Monday that they should stop fearing Covid-19 and "don't let it dominate you," he attacked the media on Tuesday for not paying more attention to what he said were his many successes.

"The Fake News Media refuses to discuss how good the Economy and Stock Market, including JOBS under the Trump Administration, are doing. We will soon be in RECORD TERRITORY," he tweeted.

"All they want to discuss is Covid 19, where they won't say it, but we beat the Dems all day long, also!!!"

But Mr Trump is in trouble on the economy and stocks took a tumble on Tuesday.

The huge shock caused by the shutdown has yet to dissipate and there was more turmoil when Mr Trump halted negotiations in Congress on another stimulus package to save struggling businesses.

The President accused Democrats of seeking "to bailout poorly run, high crime, Democrat States" and said that negotiations could begin again only after the election - "after I win".

The Republican's hardball tactics drew a furious response from Mr Biden, who said Mr Trump "turned his back" on Americans struggling due to the crisis.

Mr Biden also stuck to his so far successful strategy of trying to appeal to a broad-based yearning for calm, with his visit to the Civil War battlefield of Gettysburg to discuss saving "the soul of America".

"The forces of darkness, the forces of division, the forces of yesterday are pulling us apart, holding us down and holding us back," Mr Biden.

"We can end this era of division, we can end the hate and the fear. We can be what we are at our best - the United States of America," he said, with emphasis on "united".

He also said he and Mr Trump should not have their scheduled debate on Oct 15 if Mr Trump still had the coronavirus. - AFP