Trump in North Carolina: ‘All you hear is Covid, Covid, Covid, Covid, Covid.’

Discouraged workers add to the cloud over the labor market.

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President Trump complained about the news media’s intensive coverage of the coronavirus pandemic at a campaign rally in Gastonia, N.C., on Wednesday evening, describing the disease as an annoying inconvenience even as the country’s case count and death toll continue to soar.

Attacking two television networks, CNN and MSNBC, with barbed epithets, Mr. Trump insisted for the second night in a row, “That pandemic is rounding the corner. They hate it when I say it.”

“All you hear is Covid, Covid, Covid, Covid, Covid, Covid, Covid, Covid, Covid, Covid, Covid,” Mr. Trump said, repeating the word 11 times. “That’s all they put on, because they want to scare the hell out of everyone.”

Mr. Trump’s lament about television news followed a familiar line in his recent speeches, insisting in defiance of all evidence that the coronavirus is rapidly disappearing as an issue. It is not a perspective shared by most voters: A national poll published Monday by The Times found that 51 percent of likely voters believed the worst of the pandemic was yet to come, compared with 37 percent who said the worst was over.

And that was not the full extent of Mr. Trump’s dissembling on the pandemic. He repeated a familiar — and false — line claiming that the country only appears to have so many cases because there is so much testing, and telling supporters that his Democratic opponent, Joseph R. Biden Jr., was seeking to “prolong the pandemic” and “shut down your country,” even though the former vice president has presented a public-health agenda aimed at doing the opposite.

The president also continued taunting Democratic governors who have imposed restrictions on gatherings and commercial activity to counter the spread of the virus, including North Carolina’s Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat seeking re-election whose popularity has risen in response to his handling of the pandemic.

“You got to get your governor to open up your state here,” Mr. Trump said, prodding Mr. Cooper. “Open up your state, governor. It’s time.”

But Mr. Trump also went out of his way to poke at a governor outside the region, once again attacking Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, who was recently targeted by right-wing militants in a kidnapping plot.

Mr. Trump also reiterated a call for the jailing of one of his political opponents, a demand he has made often in his political career and with new frequency toward the end of this campaign. His adversary this time was U.S. Representative Adam Schiff, of California, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, whom Mr. Trump derided for raising the issue of foreign disinformation that targeted Mr. Biden. “Honestly, that guy should be locked up,” Mr. Trump said.

As he swerved from one topic to the next, Mr. Trump occasionally delivered some elements of a conventional political message, promising “record prosperity” in a second term and accusing Mr. Biden of plotting with leftists to raise taxes.

Yet as usual, it was in his digressions that Mr. Trump showed real passion, including in interludes spent going after “the Deep Staters,” former President Barack Obama — whom he referred to using his middle name, Hussein — and the CBS newsmagazine show “60 Minutes,” with which Mr. Trump has been feuding.

Describing an interview that he abruptly ended Tuesday week, but which has not yet been broadcast, Mr. Trump claimed that the interviewer, Lesley Stahl, had described him as “begging for women to love you,” a characterization to which he objected.

“You’ll see. You’ll see,” Mr. Trump said, seemingly forecasting some kind of payback, “We have a little surprise for ‘60 Minutes.’”

Also on Wednesday night, the Sinclair Broadcast Group aired an hourlong town hall with Mr. Trump recorded at the White House a day earlier. Speaking in the Rose Garden with the Sinclair host Eric Bolling and fielding friendly questions from several voters, Mr. Trump boasted that he had been doing a “flawless” job before the coronavirus hit and branded Mr. Biden as “corrupt.” If he is re-elected, he vowed, “We’re going to finish it strong.”

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