President Trump held rallies in Michigan and Wisconsin on Saturday, a day after Wisconsin reported its highest number of new coronavirus cases. Mr. Trump made few mentions of the pandemic at the rallies, except for his own battle against it and efforts to reopen the state.
“I wish you had a republican governor because frankly you’ve got to open your state up,” Mr. Trump said in Janesville. “You’ve got to open it up. You’ve got to open your state up, get everyone back to school.”
In Muskegon, Michigan, Mr. Trump also called for the state to “open up.” “Now you’ve got to get your governor to open up your state, okay?” Mr. Trump said. “And get your schools open. Get your schools open. The schools have to be open, right?”
The crowd chanted “lock her up” and Mr. Trump responded “lock them all up.”
Later on, Mr. Trump said “a guy like Biden and the Democrats want to keep Michigan locked down and closed for business. It is so badly hurting your state.”
Referencing the alleged kidnapping plot against Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Mr. Trump said “I guess they say she was threatened.” Fourteen people have been charged in connection to an alleged plot to kidnap Whitmer, including two who were photographed at an armed protest at the state Capitol to reopen the state in April.
Whitmer has drawn a direct line between Mr. Trump’s rhetoric and the alleged plot. After his remarks on Saturday, Whitmer tweeted “this is exactly the rhetoric that has put me, my family, and other government officials’ lives in danger while we try to save the lives of our fellow Americans. It needs to stop.”
Michigan and Wisconsin are two of the three states Mr. Trump flipped in 2016 that he needs to hold onto if he wants to win on November 3. On Saturday, Mr. Trump tried to tout the economy and hit Democratic nominee Joe Biden on trade and tie him to the protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
But according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, nearly 4,000 new cases of the coronavirus were confirmed on Friday – the highest number the state has seen in a single day since the start of the pandemic.
Although the president his delivering his remarks outside at an airport, it is in a county that has a “very high case activity.”
A Trump campaign spokesperson said the campaign has taken “strong precautions” for upcoming events.
“Every attendee has their temperature checked, is provided a mask they’re instructed to wear, and has access to plenty of hand sanitizer. We also have signs at our events instructing attendees to wear their masks,” deputy national press secretary Courtney Parella said in a statement.
There has been limited social distancing at previous Trump campaign events, however, and few attendees have been seen wearing masks.
Dr. Bob Freedland, along with other Wisconsin doctors, stepped up Friday to urge the cancellation of Mr. Trump’s rally, “CBS This Morning: Saturday”.
“President Trump’s rallies endanger public health and they have become platforms for him to spread medically inaccurate information,” he said.
Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers has also expressed concerns.
“Unless something extraordinary happens between now and then, he’ll be encouraging a superspreader event,” Evers said on Thursday, Spectrum News reported. “As governor of the state of Wisconsin I sure would ask him personally, have people wear a mask, have them be physically distant.”
The Associated Press reported that people attending the rally will have to park over two miles away and take a shuttle bus to the event.
Former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee for president, slammed Mr. Trump for visiting Wisconsin while the state is “in the grips of one of the worst coronavirus outbreaks in the country.”
“President Trump is knowingly downplaying the severity of the virus. At virtually every turn, he has panicked and tried to wish it away, rather than doing the hard work to get it under control,” Biden said in a statement Saturday. “And today, 150,000 fewer Wisconsin workers are employed than when President Trump took office and his failed response to the pandemic has crushed Wisconsin’s economy.”
Caroline Linton contributed to this report.