WASHINGTON – President Trump and his campaign for personal assistance, who call it a game of political Russian roulette and, despite growing concern, are defending their right to rally indoors for the rally, such ceremonies Can prolong the coronaval epidemic.
“I’m at a stage, and it’s far away,” Mr. Trump said in an interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal on Monday, after thousands of his supporters gathered Sunday night inside a manufacturing plant in the Las Vegas suburb. , Flaunts a state directive limiting indoor ceremonies to less than 50 people.
The president did not address health concerns about those attending the rally, most of whom did not wear masks or practice any social distance. When it came to his safety, he said, “I’m not worried at all.”
Officials said the decision to hold a rally was a last resort for a campaign that tried to buy five outdoor venues. A Trump campaign official said that everyone faced pressure from state officials to host the rally.
Xtreme Manufacturing, which eventually agreed to host, immediately faced threats from the city of Henderson, Nev. Officials said in a letter that the city could impose a fine of $ 500 for every person over the state’s 50-person limit and suspended or revoked. Business license of Xtreme Manufacturing.
Mr. Trump was defiant during the rally. He said, “If the governors come after you, which they should not do, I will be with you.”
Upcoming Trump rallies in Wisconsin and Minnesota have been planned for outdoor airport hangars, similar to the one the president recently began scheduling with little pomp, but which still violates state guidelines by 50 Are limited to fewer people. But in some states, such as North Carolina, where Mr. Trump held an outdoor rally in Winston-Salem last week, there is a waiver of the First Amendment to allow crowds to gather in the name of freedom to speak. This has led the Trump campaign to distribute signs reading “This is a peaceful demonstration” at its rallies, claiming that attending the rally is an act of political speech.
An official said that there were no plans to announce large-scale incidents in the campaign.
But more than 100 people, most of them not wearing masks, were packed into a hotel ballroom in Arizona for an event on Monday that was billed as a modest round table with the president.
Officials said they never considered ending the rallies altogether when their efforts to find an outdoor venue failed. For the president, the quiet return of a classic Trumpian political event is a way to give himself a sense of control during a time when he has little control over events or news cycles. Longtime advisers said they were critical to the management of a candidate who needed an enthusiastic crowd to cheer on as they themselves were to activate supporters.
Nevertheless, the return of the rallies was a stark contrast to the Trump campaign.
The president told radio host Hugh Hewitt last month that he did not plan to hold campaign rallies because of concerns about the epidemic. “I would like to do rallies. We cannot be due to Kovid, ”Mr. Trump said. “You know, you guys can’t sit next to each other.”
His critics said that recent rallies on the battlefield were a sign of more frustration than strength. The president is eager to generate news coverage; With 50 days until election day, he was the Democratic candidate in the wartime state elections, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden supersedes Jr. and his campaign has pulled commercials as its cash gains have evaporated. Cable channels have cut down on live coverage of Mr. Trump’s rallies, but local allies still often cater to them.
Tim Murto, a campaign spokesman, defended the decision to take it with an indoor rally in the midst of an epidemic.
“People are eager to see their president, and our first priority for places is places like airplane hangars,” he said. “But the fact is that no one monitors gamblers in casinos or thousands of people are protesting shoulder to shoulder. In gathering people peacefully under the First Amendment to hear from the President of the United States should be able. “
But the decision to go ahead caused a wave of internal backlash, including an adviser to Trump who said the president was playing a game of Russian roulette in organizing the indoor rally. The advisor, who requested anonymity Baba not to anger Mr Trump, had taken a cavalier approach to the epidemic that could backfire politically. Some of the president’s most vocal defenders outside the administration agreed.
President George W. A former White House press secretary for Bush and a frequent defender of Mr. Trump, Ari Fletcher, “Indoor rallies are irresponsible” Wrote on twitter. “Kovid-19 is real and it was a bad idea.”
In an interview, Mr. Fleischer said he felt the president would be politically hurt when positive cases escalated in Las Vegas. The week after a rally in Tulsa, Okla. In June. The president convened the last indoor gathering, with the city’s top health official saying that an increase in coronovirus cases in the area was likely linked to the incident. Former Republican presidential nominee Herman Cain died at Kovid-19 after attending a Tulsa rally, though it was unclear whether he was exposed to the virus there or elsewhere.
But “more fundamentally, you just don’t take the chance,” Mr. Fleischer said. “Presidents should set the example.”
In the White House, anyone who approaches the president, including senior staff, is tested for the virus. Mr. Trump himself is tested daily, if not more often. Most West Wing senior staff members work in the building, but East Wing staff of first lady Melania Trump, works largely from home.
When she travels with the president, Mrs. Trump asks that her own staff and advance team not travel with her to come in contact with the virus. According to an administration official, citing his concerns about the epidemic, he declined to participate in fund raising for the campaign.
Vice President Mike Pence has also chosen a different approach. On Friday, he wore a face mask while standing with other dignitaries at Zero to celebrate the 19th anniversary of September 11, 2001.