President Donald Trump continued to defy the Covid-19 virus, disastrous opinion polls and new economic turmoil in a stormy return from hospitalization, while surging challenger Joe Biden appealed for Americans to unite against the "forces of darkness."
There have been few tougher days for Trump since he came to power after his shock 2016 election win.
Still being treated with a powerful cocktail of drugs for the coronavirus after three nights in hospital, he was scrambling to get his reelection campaign back on track ahead of November 3 election day – less than four weeks away.
Latest polls forecast a huge victory for Biden, with CNN giving the Democrat a national advantage of 57 percent to 41 percent among likely voters, with women voters going 66 to 32 percent in his favor.
Biden's advance comes as Trump has been forced off the campaign trail after falling ill last Friday to the virus that has already killed some 210,000 Americans.
With what White House doctors describe as his rapid recovery, Trump is doubling down on his controversial position that Covid-19 is taken too seriously, painting himself as a fighter who took on the virus and easily won.
After telling Americans in a speech from the White House balcony Monday that they should stop fearing Covid-19 and "don't let it dominate you," he attacked the media Tuesday for not paying more attention to what he said were his many successes.
The huge shock caused by this year's coronavirus shutdown has yet to dissipate, and on Tuesday there was more turmoil when Trump halted negotiations in Congress on another stimulus package to save struggling businesses.
Trump accused Democrats of seeking "to bailout poorly run, high crime, Democrat States" and said that negotiations could begin again only after the election -- "after I win."
The Republican's hardball tactics drew a furious response from Biden, who said Trump "turned his back" on Americans struggling due to the crisis.
Biden also stuck to his so-far successful strategy of appealing to a broad-based yearning for calm, with his visit to the Civil War battlefield of Gettysburg to discuss saving "the soul of America."
"The forces of darkness, the forces of division, the forces of yesterday are pulling us apart, holding us down and holding us back," Biden said at the hallowed Pennsylvania grounds where Abraham Lincoln's Union forces won a decisive victory over Confederate troops in 1863.
"We can end this era of division, we can end the hate and the fear. We can be what we are at our best -- the United States of America," he said.
Trump is working overtime to persuade voters that he is back to full strength despite the hospitalization.
However, indicating the breadth of the coronavirus crisis overshadowing Trump politically and now personally, a viral outbreak continued to sweep through his inner circle.
Top White House aide Stephen Miller confirmed Tuesday that he had tested positive for Covid-19. Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman General Mark Milley also went into quarantine following contact with an infected officer, a Pentagon source said.
There had been speculation, even among some Republicans, that Trump might emerge from hospital chastened or at least with a new tone of empathy.
But on social media he returned to one of his oldest lines of argument used to downplay the seriousness of the pandemic, saying it was comparable to the ordinary flu and "we have learned to live with it."
Twitter hid the tweet, and Facebook removed the post saying that it broke the platforms' rules on "spreading misleading and potentially harmful information."
Meanwhile, the Department of Homeland Security on Tuesday said White supremacists and anarchists pose major US domestic terror threats and could spark violence at events related to the November 3 election. It said white supremacists were responsible for 39 of the 48 deaths attributed to domestic violent extremists in 2018-2019.