TAMPA, Fla. - President Trump took an optimistic tone during a roundtable discussion on coronavirus in Pinellas County, despite a recent surge in the number of deaths reported by state health officials.
With 256, Friday was the fourth day in a row Florida registered a record number of deaths. Over the last four days, the state has averaged 228 per day.
"I hate it anywhere," he said at the Pelican Country Club. "This is a horrible disease. This is a disease that should have never happened. It is something that should have never been allowed to get out of China, but it did."
Sitting alongside his key Florida allies, Gov. Ron DeSantis and Sen. Rick Scott, the president insisted efforts to send therapeutic drugs, PPE and test kits have helped prevent the worst.
"We are very proud of what's happening," he said. "We will get rid of it. We will beat it. It'll be soon. We want to get our schools open. We want to get our businesses open."
Still, the state has been hit by percentages of positive tests in the double digits for months, as well as daily new cases that are generally around 10,000.
Though both those numbers have recently ticked down, it appears the coronavirus is becoming a referendum on the presidency, and Trump is in for a battle to win Florida.
The RealClearPolitics polling average shows former Vice President Biden with a lead.
After scoring his upset win in 2016, the president continues to insist polls have been wrong about him.
"The polls are looking very good and I think when you see those crowds of people along the roads, there's a very good feeling," the president said.
It's a new style of campaigning for the president who has held only three Florida rallies over the last year and a half because of COVID-19.
After getting off Air Force One, the president walked onto a stage and spoke to supporters Friday at Tampa International Airport. Flanked by state sheriffs who endorsed the president, he gave a campaign-style speech.
"You see the polls going up up up," he said at the rally. "We had an easy campaign and then we got hit by the China virus and China couldn't be happier because they said maybe they will get rid of that guy. We don't want him as president."
He did not discuss the status of coronavirus relief package negotiations and why they have not struck a deal to continue $600 payments to 30 million unemployed workers.
The last payments were made this week.