Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 7 August 2020

Trump to establish 'National Garden' of heroes

He made the announcement as he opened the Fourth of July weekend and lashed out at protesters

US President Donald Trump said on Friday that he will establish a "National Garden of American Heroes," which he described as "a vast outdoor park that will feature the statues of the greatest Americans who ever lived."

Mr Trump made the announcement as he opened the Fourth of July weekend with a speech and fireworks at the iconic Mount Rushmore.

He led into the announcement by paying tribute to a litany of American icons, from political figures like Ulysses S Grant and Frederick Douglass to entertainers like Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra.

The executive order released Friday by the White House says the garden will feature statues of several presidents as well as other historic notables, including Davy Crockett, Amelia Earhart, Billy Graham, Harriet Tubman and Orville and Wilbur Wright.

He said that protesters have waged "a merciless campaign to wipe out our history" amid demonstrations against racial injustice and police brutality.

The sharp rebuke in a holiday address to mark the nation's independence follows weeks of protests across the nation, sparked by the Memorial Day killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis. Some demonstrators have also destroyed or damaged Confederate monuments and statues honoring those who have benefited from slavery.

"This movement is openly attacking the legacies of every person on Mount Rushmore," Trump will say, according to excerpts of his speech released by the White House. He will also add that some on the political left hope to "defame our heroes, erase our values, and indoctrinate our children."

His speech, intended to rev up his conservative base, comes as Mr Trump has seen his standing slump over his handling of the pandemic and response to protests and unrest around the country. With four months until the election, Mr Trump's reelection hopes — once buoyed by low unemployment and a roaring stock market — seem uncertain.

Amid the headwinds, Mr Trump has sharpened his focus on his most ardent base of supporters as concern grows inside his campaign that his poll numbers in the battleground states that will decide the 2020 election are slipping.

Mr Trump in recent weeks has increasingly lashed out at "left-wing mobs," used a racist epithet to refer to the coronavirus and visited the nation's southern border to spotlight progress on his 2016 campaign promise to build a US-Mexico border wall.

Ahead of the speech, the girlfriend of Mr Trump's eldest son has tested positive for coronavirus, US media reported on Friday.

Kimberly Guilfoyle, a former Fox News television personality who is dating Donald Trump Jr, had traveled to South Dakota to see the US president's Fourth of July speech and celebration fireworks at Mount Rushmore.

Ms Guilfoyle, 51, was immediately isolated after discovering she had the virus in a routine test conducted on anyone expected to come in close contact with the president, the New York Times reported.

In a statement to the newspaper, Sergio Gor, chief of staff to the Trump campaign's finance committee, said: "She's doing well, and will be retested to ensure the diagnosis is correct since she's asymptomatic."

He added: "As a precaution (she) will cancel all upcoming events. Donald Trump Jr was tested negative, but as a precaution is also self-isolating and is canceling all public events."

Ms Guilfoyle is the third person close to the US president to return a positive Covid-19 test, US media reported.

Others include Mr Trump's personal valet and the US vice president's press secretary.

Updated: July 4, 2020 02:02 PM

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