As thunderstorms threatened, President Donald Trump sped through a V-J Day speech on Wednesday, trumpeting American strength and managing to squeeze in a swipe at Democratic rival Joe Biden.
Trump stood before an iconic World War II-era battleship to declare the port city of Wilmington, North Carolina, a World War II "Heritage City." He pointed to a bolt of lightning and said it was God saluting the event.
He honoured war veterans, including 97-year-old Hershel "Woody" Williams, the sole surviving Marine from the war to receive the Medal of Honour. The West Virginia native fought in the Battle of Iwo Jima in the Pacific. "He's 100 percent sharp," Trump said of Williams.
"I know a 78-year-old who's not so sharp," Trump added, a clear allusion to Biden.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany had insisted earlier this week that there was no "political purpose" to Trump's visit to North Carolina.
But when the president landed in Wilmington, Trump lost no time in criticising Biden.
Meanwhile, Joe Biden is calling the struggle to reopen US schools amid the coronavirus a "national emergency" and accusing President Donald Trump of turning his back to stoke passions instead about unrest in America's cities.
The Democratic presidential nominee's broadsides came a day ahead of his own trip to Kenosha, Wisconsin, where Biden said he wants to help "heal" a city reeling from another police shooting of a Black man.
Biden assailed Trump for his vilifying of protesters as well as his handling of the pandemic that has killed nearly 190,000 Americans and crippled the national economy, leaving millions out of work, schools straining to deal with students in classrooms or at home and parents struggling to keep up.