SINGAPORE — Americans will go to the polls come 3 November to vote for their 46th president. In the running are current US president Donald Trump and former vice-president Joe Biden.
The US 2020 presidential election is taking place while the US is facing numerous divisive challenges, including the COVID-19 pandemic ravaging across the states that has killed more than 226,000 people in the country so far, bitter bipartisan politics, and heightened racial tensions.
Here are some of Trump’s controversial comments on issues such as the pandemic and “Obamagate” during his four-year term in office.
On wearing masks:
“Every time you see (Biden), he’s got a mask. He could be speaking 200 feet away from it. And he shows up with the biggest mask I’ve ever seen.”
During the first presidential debate on 30 September, Trump had mocked Biden for frequently wearing a mask, in response to a question on the pandemic. Just three days later, Trump, who is rarely photographed in public wearing a mask, tested positive for the virus.
On his previous COVID test results:
“I tested very positively in another sense. So this morning, I tested positively toward negative, right? So no. I tested perfectly this morning, meaning I tested negative. But that's a way of saying it. Positively toward the negative.”
Trump has had trouble with medical terminology related to COVID-19 testing. In May, before departing for Michigan to visit a Ford plant that is assembling ventilators, he described to reporters the results of one of his coronavirus tests.
On the COVID pandemic:
“I wanted to always play it down. I still like playing it down because I don’t want to create a panic.”
Trump’s wildly optimistic comment about curbing the COVID-19 outbreak in February came under renewed scrutiny after interviews by journalist Bob Woodward revealed that the president knew early on how deadly the virus was. Over the subsequent months, the US recorded the most number of COVID-19 cases globally, with infections surging to more than 7.89 million cases as of 14 October.
“We must hold accountable the nation which unleashed this plague onto the world, China.”
Trump focused his speech during the 75th annual UN General Assembly in September on attacking China. Among his repeated accusations: that Beijing had allowed people to leave China in the early stages of the outbreak to infect the world and that the World Health Organization is “virtually controlled by China”.
On whether ‘injecting disinfectants’ could help treat COVID:
“Supposing we hit the body with a tremendous – whether it’s ultraviolet or just very powerful light... And then I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in a minute...is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning.”
Encouraged by tentative findings that summer weather may dampen the spread of the virus, Trump asked whether light could become a medical treatment during a press briefing in April.
“It's been going on for a long time. It's been going on from before I even got elected. And it's a disgrace that it happened...You know what the crime is. The crime is very obvious to everybody. All you have to do is read the newspapers, except yours.”
Trump has repeatedly accused his predecessor Barack Obama of committing crimes and seeking to damage his presidency, referring to it as “Obamagate”. In May, he explained the basis for his attacks in response to a query from a reporter.
On Biden allegedly using drugs:
“I think there's probably, possibly drugs involved. That's what I hear.”
Trump has accused Biden on several occasions that the former US vice president consumes performance-enhancing drugs without providing evidence. He again suggested that his Democratic opponent took them before their first face-off in the debate and demanded Biden to take a drug test. It’s not the first time Trump has suggested his opponents were taking drugs – in 2016, he also accused then-Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton of doing the same.
On committing to a peaceful transfer of power:
“Get rid of the ballots and you’ll have a very peaceful – there won’t be a transfer, frankly, there will be a continuation.”
Trump has refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power should he lose the presidential election to Biden. He has repeatedly expressed doubts about the electoral process, warning that the election would be a sham without substantiating his claim.
On protesters using soup cans as weapons:
“That’s better than a brick because you can’t throw a brick; it’s too heavy. But a can of soup, you can really put some power into that, right?...And then, when they get caught, they say, ‘No, this is soup for my family’. They’re so innocent.’”
In an exchange in July with national police groups, Trump expounded on how soup cans were being weaponised by left-wing protestors. His comments lit up Twitter, sparking memes and prompting even criticisms within the Republican ranks.
On the probe into Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election:
"Everybody knows there was no collusion. I think it’s a shame that something like this can destroy a very important potential relationship between two countries that are very important countries Russia could really help us.”
Trump has repeatedly maintained there was no evidence to back the accusation that the Russian government had interfered in the 2016 US presidential election to favour him over his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.
Despite overwhelming consensus among US officials of evidence showing Russian president Vladimir Putin’s involvement in the operation, Trump claimed that Putin had assured him that his country did not attempt to sway the electoral outcome.
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