After weeks of bashing mail-in voting and even suggesting the 2020 election should be delayed, President Donald Trump has changed his tune — at least when it comes to the critical swing state of Florida. Now he’s for it.
The president on Tuesday encouraged voters in Florida to vote by mail, first via a tweet and later at his daily coronavirus press conference.
“Florida has been working on this for years. They have a very good system for mail-in,” said Trump, when asked by a reporter to explain his seeming change of heart. The president credited two “great” Florida governors, Rick Scott and the current incumbent Ron DeSantis, for building Florida’s current system.
Florida helped deliver a key win for Trump in his victory over Hillary Clinton in 2016. Polls show he now trails Democratic contender Joe Biden.
At the same time, though, the president repeated his criticism of Nevada’s decision to mail ballots to all voters in the Western swing state. The Democratic governor and Democratic-controlled state legislature approved the plan over the weekend.
Trump contended that states with little experience in broad mail-in voting aren’t equipped to make the transition quickly. He cited the hung congressional election in New York between veteran Democrat Carolyn Maloney and a left-leaning challenger that is still undecided a month and a half after the vote took place.
“When you look at the Carolyn Maloney election, I think you have to do it over. It’s a disaster. It’s a mess,” said Trump, referring to a New York Times article about the outcome.
Critics say Trump wants to stymie mail-in voting because it would lower the odds of him winning reelection. His suggestion that the November vote be delayed was rejected by major lawmakers in both parties.
In other remarks during his press conference:
• Trump said his military advisers believe a deadly explosion in Lebanon was the result of an “attack.” The country’s prime minister has publicly declared it was an accident triggered by improper storage of nearly 3,000 tons of explosive chemicals near Beirut’s port.
• Trump reiterated his belief that the U.S. Treasury should benefit financially from the sale of the Chinese-owned social-video app Tiktok, potentially to Microsoft MSFT, -1.50% He said the U.S. was making the deal possible.
It would be highly unusual, if not unprecedented, for the U.S. government to profit from the sale of a private company in which it had no stake, legal experts say. The White House has threatened to ban the app over national-security concerns.
• Trump indicated the White House might adopt a different approach to coronavirus testing after he was asked why he thinks the U.S. tests too much. He did not offer any specifics.
“There comes a point when you want to focus your testing in a different way,” he said. “Right now the testing we are doing now is helpful, but we are spending massive amounts of money.”
• Trump said he might take executive action to prevent renters hurt by the pandemic from being evicted if a divided Congress doesn’t agree to another financial-relief package soon for the economy.
“People are being evicted unfairly. It’s not their fault. It’s China’s fault,” said the president, repeating a longstanding criticism of China for letting the virus spread to the rest of the world.