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‘He has to get back to his life’: Trump looks past crises to resume his routine

Trump is scheduled to fly to Dallas on Thursday for an event on the nation’s racial disparities and a $ 10 million fundraiser and then head to his luxury golf club in Bedminster, N.J. — his first weekend trip to one of his namesake resorts since the pandemic forced Americans into their homes in March.

During the weekend, Trump will deliver a commencement address in New York. Next week, he will headline a campaign rally next week in Tulsa, Okla. And the next month he will view fireworks in South Dakota. He also expects to hold rallies in Florida, Arizona and North Carolina in the coming weeks. Plans are also being made for larger fundraisers in the Hamptons, as well as in Tampa the first week of July and in Mississippi the last week of August.

Trump is launching a return to his typical schedule after spending weeks pushing Americans to resume their schedules, hoping to restore the coronavirus-battered economy before voters decide whether he deserves a second term in office

“If he’s telling the world it’s OK to get back to your life, at some point he has to get back to his life,” said a Republican who speaks to the president.

But while Trump tries to signal he is resuming his version of normalcy, the country is far from achieving a semblance of normalcy. Hundreds of coronavirus deaths are still being reported in the U.S. daily. Twenty-one million Americans are out of work. And protesters continue to demonstrate, demanding major policing reforms after the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man killed in the custody of Minneapolis police.

Still, three people familiar with the situation said Trump expects to be criticized whether he remains inside the White House — he’s already been accused of “hiding” inside while protests take place just outside the gates — or travels out of Washington, so he doesn’t see a reason not to go. And he contends that the protests, many of which lack social distancing, will make it more difficult for Democrats to criticize him.

With just five months left before the election, Trump allies privately worry the president has lost ground during the coronavirus outbreak. Polls show Trump lagging behind presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden in most national polls and his standing has fallen in many key states, such as Ohio and Iowa, and even in traditionally red states, such as Arizona and Georgia.

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But Trump now is eager to create a contrast with Biden, who has largely remained secluded in his Delaware home since spring. The president hasn’t headlined a fundraiser in months but he will appear at two small ones this week in Texas and New Jersey expected to bring in more than $ 16 million combined.

“I think we need to get going. I think this whole thing is overdone,” said Hossein Khorram, a developer who serves as Trump Victory Washington State finance co-chair. “It’s time to resume life. It’s past due. It’s about time.”

Presidents have long been criticized for leaving Washington during moments of crisis, though their aides always argue that presidential responsibilities travel with them anywhere.

President George W. Bush was at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. President Barack Obama was on Martha’s Vineyard while the U.S. military conducted airstrikes in Iraq.

And Trump was at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster when Maria, a Category 5 hurricane, hit Puerto Rico in 2017.

“No president will escape the scrutiny or the questions of what they choose to do outside the White House,” said Anita McBride, who served in the past three Republican White Houses, including as chief of staff to former first lady Laura Bush. “No matter what, as an elected official, you’re always subject to people questioning what you do, where you do it, who you’re doing it with.”

Yet even by presidential standards, Trump leaves the White House for relaxation frequently, spending most weekends golfing at his course in Sterling, Va., just outside Washington, or at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Fla., in the winter and Bedminster in the summer.

Sampat Shivangi, a Mississippi physician who has twice been to Mar-a-Lago, said Trump prefers to frequent his own resorts because of the way he’s treated there.

“He’s the president, but he’s the king when he goes there,” he said.

Trump has visited his properties more than 350 times since he was sworn into office, according to information released by the White House, fueling complaints that he has directed millions of taxpayer dollars to his businesses.

Trump has essentially cut off those visits during the coronavirus pandemic but recently has been inching back toward weekend trips.

Some aides suggested Trump spend the night at Mar-a-Lago last month when he flew to Florida to witness the SpaceX launch — the first American astronauts to head to space from U.S. soil in almost a decade. But the idea was quickly nixed, according to two Republicans.

At his resorts, Trump is able to leave the Washington bubble and mingle and dine freely with friends, while playing a round of golf or two. He has been known to unexpectedly greet guests at wedding receptions.

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