by Debra Heine
President Donald Trump traveled to Fort Myers, Florida Friday to give a speech focusing on health care costs, Social Security and other issues that impact senior citizens. In his speech, the president sought to reassure elderly voters, who have borne the brunt of the coronavirus pandemic, that he cares about them, and is doing do everything he can to protect and defend them.
The “Protecting America’s Seniors” invite-only event was scheduled to begin at 1:30 p.m. at the Caloosa Sound Convention Center in downtown St, Myers.
Trump also touted Regeneron, the coronavirus treatment he received when he had Covid, which reduces viral levels, and improves symptoms.
“I wasn’t feeling great and the next day I wake up and I’m saying, like, ‘Who can I fight today?’ ” the president joked.
Supporters started gathering outside the convention center earlier Friday morning, hoping to get a glimpse of the president. Thousands more lined the streets to cheer the motorcade escort Trump to the venue.
In his address, the president stressed that, contrary to Democrat opponent Joe Biden’s messaging, he very much does care about the millions of seniors across the United States who suffered terrible deprivations because of Covid-19.
For months, countless families across the U.S. with parents or grandparents in nursing homes have been unable to see their loved ones before they died because of state coronavirus restrictions. Priests have been barred from giving Last Rites.
Seniors at a nursing and rehabilitation facility in Greeley, Colo. recently organized a protest against the state’s restrictions, saying they’d rather die of the coronavirus than die of loneliness.
In the midst of all this suffering and heartache, Joe Biden has taken to telling seniors that the president doesn’t care about them, that Trump thinks they’re “expendable, forgettable and virtually nobody.”
Biden also recently told seniors that Trump is to blame for “the empty chairs around the dining room table,” and the reason they have been unable to hug their grandkids in the past seven months.
The president began his address with a “solemn pledge” to reassure elderly voters: “I will protect you, I will defend you and I will fight for you with every ounce of energy and conviction that I have,” Trump promised. “You devoted your life to this country and I am devoting my life to you,” the president added.
“As president I am deeply aware that America’s 54 million seniors have borne the heaviest burden of the China virus. Many older Americans have endured months of isolation, missing weddings, births, graduations, church and family reunions,” said Trump.
“My heart breaks for every grieving family that has lost a precious loved one. I feel their anguish, I mourn their loss. I feel their pain,” he continued.
“In times of challenge, we turn to our fellow Americans for a shoulder to lean on and we turn to God for healing and strength. And together we will overcome. We will overcome!” the president declared to cheers.
“My message to America’s seniors today is one of optimism, confidence, and hope. Your sacrifice has not been in vain. The light at the tunnel is near.”
Trump assured seniors: “I am working as hard as I can so you can kiss and hug your children and grandchildren very soon. (Applause.) That’s something I missed also, I will be honest with you.”
Partial transcript below:
We are rounding the turn. I say that all the time. Some of the media doesn’t like hearing it. (Applause.) But I say it all the time: We’re rounding that turn.
Don’t listen to the cynics and angry partisans and professional pessimists. We are Americans and we will prevail. We are prevailing and we are. It’s amazing what’s happening, if you look at what’s going on. It’s been really very amazing.
I’m moving heaven and earth to safeguard our seniors from the China virus, to deliver lifesaving therapies in record time, and to distribute a safe and effective vaccine before the end of the year. (Applause.) And we’re really doing it, even sooner than that. You see what’s going on. We have the vaccines getting ready to go.
Seniors will be the first in line for the vaccine. And we will soon be ending this pandemic. Hasn’t happened, a thing like this, since 1918, 1917. And that was a bad one, too. That was a real bad one.
I will not rest until we’ve eradicated this plague from our country and our lives and our world. We want it out. When the China virus arrived, we launched the largest mobilization since World War Two. Our aggressive and early action saved more than 2 million lives compared to the best estimates from last spring. You remember when they were giving you estimates.
Since the beginning, our nation’s seniors have been my top priority. It was obvious very early on that it was affecting the seniors — not young people. Young people are — they have that strong immune system. And I give all credit to them, but they have a strong immune system. And 99.99 — think of that.
But when you get into people that have a few more years, it’s a little bit — it’s a little bit more difficult. When you get a lot more years, it’s a lot more difficult. But what they’ve done with therapeutics now and what they’ve done with all of the other things that they’re doing, it’s incredible.
We heightened mitigation and surged testing to protect those at highest risk. We sent billions and billions of dollars in funding to personal protective equipment and distributed rapid testing to 15,400 nursing homes all over the country. And we’ve worked with a lot of governors. (Applause.) Yeah. We’ve worked with a lot of governors. And some have done a great job, and some have done a not a great job, and some have done a very poor job, actually. But some have done a great job. But we’re working very closely with the governors of states.
Just this week, even the New York Times — this was shocking — was forced to admit that, quote, “Experts are saying with genuine confidence that the pandemic in the United States will be over far sooner than they expected.” And — (applause) — and they’re right. But I was shocked to hear it coming out of the New York Times, right? I was a little sur- — and it’s thanks to my administration’s Operation Warp Speed. Incredible people. (Applause.)
Because of advances in treatment we pioneered — and we have many treatments, but because of these great advances, we’ve reached the point where the fatality rate is reduced by 85 percent since April. And now it’s up to probably 91 percent. (Applause.) Well, I’m here — I’ll tell you. (Laughter and applause.)
AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you.
Well, I don’t know what they gave me, but give me some more of it right now, and you can have some. (Applause.) No, I know exactly what they gave me. It was actually pretty amazing.
I’m also working with the FDA and HHS to make the antibody treatment that I received. It’s called Regeneron, plus — also, it’s incredible. And, you know, what they what they can do today is incredible. And they felt very confident, even six months ago, when they started. Think of it: We got this all done in a very short period of time. And now we’re going for emergency use because we’re going to make it available to everyone who needs it for free — anybody in the country. (Applause.)
And Eli Lilly is making a very similar drug. And, Alex, they’re working very hard on that, right? Alex Azar. So thank you very much — because I want people to get it, and we’re getting it free. Right? So we got to do that. (Applause.) If you need it. If you don’t need it, that’s even better, okay? That’s even better. But if you need it — right? — you get it.
It’s really pretty amazing what happened, because I wasn’t feeling great. And the next day, I wake up and I’m saying, like, “Who can I fight today?” (Laughs.) (Applause.) Thank you.
So our groundbreaking therapies have significantly approved and improved our outcomes for elderly patients, but I’ll not relent until all American seniors are safe. You’re going to be safe — 100 percent safe. And we’re right — we’re at a point where, really, so much progress has been made.
Under Operation Warp Speed, we’re on track to deliver at least 100 million doses of a vaccine this year — and could even be a little bit sooner than what they were originally anticipating — with hundreds of millions more to quickly follow, Alex. Remember that, Alex.
Today I’m thrilled to announce that we have just finalized the partnership with CVS and Walgreens — two places you know pretty well, I guess — to immediately deliver the vaccine directly to nursing homes at no cost to our seniors. No cost. (Applause.) Right? No cost.
And once you have that vaccine — these are very effective. Once you have that vaccine, you can open those doors and say, “Here I am.” (Laughter.)
But with everything that I say and everything I do, if you feel safer at home — and, you know, we can all be like, “Let’s get out there.” And I felt, as President — I knew there was risk, but I had to be out. I can’t just be locked in a basement to put it — (applause) — lock him in a basement. I felt I had to be out there.
We’d see Gold Star families who would say — and they’ve been looking forward, for months, to coming to the White House and many, many other people — military people and heads of state. And I know you put yourself at risk, but you can’t — you have to lead your life.
But I say this: There are people also that would rather stay in place, stay where you are. And to those people — and I understand that very well: Stay. Just relax. Stay until it’s gone. And it’ll be gone, but stay. Don’t feel badly or don’t feel good about it. Just stay. If you feel safe, stay.
I’m working as hard as I can so you can kiss and hug your children and grandchildren very soon. (Applause.) That’s something I missed also, I will be honest with you.
As we shelter high-risk Americans with extreme vigilance, we must also allow lower-risk Americans to return to work and return to school. I mean, children should go to school. (Applause.)
vMy young son, Barron, had it. And he had it, and all of a sudden, he doesn’t have it. It’s like — you know, it was different; it’s a whole different deal. And they should go to school, and they have to. Because, you know, I talk about the cure, right? It cannot be worse than the problem itself. It’s a very simple statement. But the cure cannot be worse than the problem itself.
And with young children, they have to go to school. They have to be with other kids. They have to grow up. You can’t — they can’t lose a year of their life. (Applause.)
And if you look at some of, you know, these lockdowns that the Democrats are doing in some states — if you look at North Carolina and Pennsylvania and Michigan — we won the case against her in Michigan. I mean, she’s running like — (applause) — she’s running, like, a prison, except for her husband, who’s allowed to go boating. That doesn’t work out somehow. Fortunately, they caught him. He was going to go on the lake, boating. Oh, that’s nice. But nobody else was allowed to do it.
But we won the case against her for Michigan, and we freed up the state, and it’s a great thing. I mean, it’s a great thing. We freed up the state. (Applause.)
Because that whole thing, with the drugs and alcohol and depression, and all of the horrible things — we could go over a long list of things — but we can’t let that happen. So we want the Democrat — radical left, in many cases — Democrats — we want them to open their states. Open up your states. And we are very careful with our seniors, and that’s different. But open up your states. Get it back.
Despite punishing society-wide lockdowns in Europe — I don’t know if you’ve been watching — they’re now experiencing a massive surge in cases. Daily cases are 2,500 percent higher in the United Kingdom, as an example, and 722 percent higher in Europe than in the United States. Okay? Think of that. No, think of that. And we wish them — and we’re working with them closely. We’re making ventilators for them — for many of the countries over there.
We became the ventilator king. I mean, we didn’t have many ventilators. We had — we had — really, we inherited bare cupboards. I say, “The cupboards were bare.” And many of the states, they had — cupboards were bare. And now they’re loaded up, and they’re ready.
But we make — the hardest thing are the ventilators because of the complexity of the machine, and the cost and the size and — but the pure complexity. And we make thousands of ventilators now a month, and we’re sending them all over the world. We’re all set with the ventilators, but we’re sending them all over the world. (Applause.)
But hopefully you won’t need them. Soon, you won’t even need them. I really think you’re going to not need the ventilators, hopefully soon — very soon.
But sadly, in Europe, the average daily deaths are — are really soaring: 402 percent higher in the United Kingdom; 493 percent higher in Europe. Meanwhile, in the United States, deaths have decreased by 37 percent. So that’s something, right? (Applause.) So the fake news doesn’t want to tell you that. Right? They just — they don’t want — they want no piece of that. They don’t want anything to do with that.
So whether you’re Republican or Democrat, we must choose facts over fear — we have to; science over hysteria; hope over despair; and the common good over partisan politics. And again, stay — if you feel good, if you feel safe — because it’s going to be gone — stay where you are. Don’t leave. Don’t say, “Oh gee, I have to get out. The President said, ‘Let’s get out.’” Stay where you are. I have a lot of friends, they’re strong people. They’re senior citizens. Great people. Very successful people.
Hi. Look, she is waving. (Laughs.) Hi. (Applause.) Thank you. Thank you, hon.
But, you know, they’re — they’re tough actually. And –but, they — you know, they feel comfortable, until this is gone. And there are people — and I do that. Do that. I might do that. If I weren’t in this position, maybe I’d be doing it myself. In this position, it’s a little tougher.
But we cannot allow unscientific, panic-driven, fear-based policies to deny our children and grandchildren their future and their dreams. We can’t take a year or two years out of their life. (Applause.) There’s a whole social thing going on there, too.
These left-wing lockdowns will crush America. And my plan is very simple: We’re going to crush the virus and go back to exactly where we were. We’re almost getting back there now. (Applause.)
So, together, we will end this pandemic, we will rebuild our economy, and we will ensure our seniors can live long, happy, secure, and healthy lives with your grandchildren and your children. You’re going to hug them, right? It’s good. (Applause.)
Under my leadership, next year will be one of the greatest years in the history of our country economically.
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Debra Heine reports for American Greatness.
Photo “Trump Speaking” by Gage Skidmore CC BY-SA 2.0.