WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump's ambitious return to the campaign trail this week comes as questions linger on two fronts: about the health of the candidate — and about the health of his campaign.
His string of scheduled swing state rallies is drawing renewed scrutiny of both the details of the president's recovery from the coronavirus and the safety of those attending the events. The push is also notable for what it represents in the campaign's homestretch: investment of valuable presidential and surrogate time in many states his advisers had assumed would be solidly in his column by this stage of the race.
Trump headed to Florida on Monday, kicking off four straight days of rallies, including his sixth visit in two months to North Carolina and a stop in Iowa, which he easily won in 2016 and where he was leading until recently. Meanwhile, his surrogates were scheduled to stump in the traditionally red states of Georgia, Nebraska and Ohio.
While Trump and his campaign are moving forward with the same posture they did before he was taken to the hospital for the virus, which also infected more than two dozen of his aides and associates, his travel schedule indicates a race in which he has fallen even further behind since his diagnosis.
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Trump is fighting to gain ground not only in areas his campaign always believed would be tight until the end, such as Florida and Pennsylvania, but also in areas where aides and advisers had expected him to be in stronger positions at this point, including Ohio and Iowa — where recent polls show him in a virtual tie.