President Trump defended holding large rallies as nearly every state in the country is seeing coronavirus cases trending in the wrong direction in an interview with CNN affiliate WTMJ on Saturday.
Although he did not address the surges during his Saturday rallies in Michigan and Wisconsin, the President was directly asked by the local Wisconsin station whether he was sending the wrong message with his actions.
“Well, I don’t think so because I’m not a big shutdown believer,” Trump responded. He claimed his campaign only holds outdoor rallies and that the crowds were largely masked, saying later he “didn’t see anyone without” a mask at one of his rallies on Friday. Although some people have been wearing masks at Trump’s recent rallies, many have not.
He also said his campaign has heard of no “incidences” where there’s been a “problem” with the virus after one of his rallies.
Some more context: CNN reported on Friday that the Minnesota Department of Health says it has so far traced 20 cases of Covid-19 back to Trump’s rally in Bemidji last month, or to related events. And the city of Tulsa experienced a surge in coronavirus cases a little over 2 weeks after Trump held an indoor rally there in June. There were also other large events in the city around the same time.
Faced with the record setting case count in Wisconsin, the President railed against lockdowns and touted his political success in the state in 2016.
“If you take a look at your state, which I love very much and, you know, we had a great victory there, but if you take a look at your state, they’ve been shut down and they’ve been locked down and locked up and, you know, they’ve been doing it for a long time and, at some point, you also have to be able to understand the disease,” Trump said.
Pressed later on the fact that Wisconsin is not completely shut down, Trump said although the state has been “very toughly run,” “frankly, it’s not doing as well as a lot of other states,” adding he wanted the state to do well and pivoting to talk about his administration’s assistance to governors and progress on vaccines and therapeutics.