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Staying off : In some ways, it was like he had never been away.

After a week-long COVID-19 enforced absence, Donald Trump addressed a noisy and enthusiastic crowd, happily veering off-script and lambasting his political opponents. It was classic Trump.

But his Saturday appearance at the White House also tells the story of an altered reality in this year’s presidential race.

The president seemed energetic during his 18-minute speech, adding weight to the claim he made on television the night before that he is pretty much back to normal.

Staying off : Most of the few hundred in the crowd on the South Lawn did wear masks but ignored social distancing guidance. Trump, in a balcony style now dubbed ‘Covita’ in Washington, was certainly a fair distance away.

On Monday, he will be back to the aircraft-hangar rallies that had become a feature of this year’s unusual election campaign. He will appear in Orlando in Florida, an event that should have taken place on 1 October when he was instead in hospital.

The wisdom of the president returning to in-person campaigning when he and so many of his circle have been infected has been widely questioned.

“What is wrong with the guy?” asked his rival Joe Biden ahead of Saturday’s event.

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