Trump Comments On Pandemic At Michigan Rally: "We Did It Just The Right Way"

Sep 11, 2020

Supporters wait for the arrival of of President Donald Trump to a campaign rally at MBS International Airport, Thursday, Sept. 10, 2020, in Freeland, Mich.
Credit (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Reeling from another crisis of his own making, President Donald Trump tried to refocus attention on his Democratic rival at a rally in battleground Michigan Thursday as he pushed to move past revelations that he purposefully played down the danger of the coronavirus last winter. But the virus controversy followed him as he faced new pushback from local officials worried about the growing size of his rallies and his campaign’s repeated flouting of public health guidelines intended to halt the COVID-19 spread. That includes Michigan’s Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who raised alarms about Thursday’s event. Trump, however, reveled in the crowd of several thousand, packed shoulder-to-shoulder in a cavernous airport hangar, mostly without masks.

President Trump told the crowd at a rally near Saginaw he did the right thing by avoiding discussing publicly how dangerous COVID-19 could be. 

The president doubled down on previous comments that he wanted to avoid spreading panic over the virus among the public…  

Trump had said he wanted to be interviewed by respected journalist Bob Woodward for a forthcoming book. 

Woodward quotes Trump saying COVID-19 was deadly stuff weeks before the first confirmed deaths from the virus in the U-S. 

At Trump’s Michigan rally, with many in the crowd refraining from wearing a mask, Woodward was no longer quite so “respected.”  

“This whack job that wrote the book…he said ‘Well Trump knew a little bit.’ They wanted me to come out and scream ‘People are dying…we’re dying.’ No…no. We did it just the right way. We have to be calm,” Trump told the crowd. 

The president also took credit for bringing new auto plants to Michigan. Though, in fact, the state has lost several in recent years and only a relative handful of major factories are being built or re-tooled.

Whitmer is sharply criticizing Trump following revelations he purposely downplayed the deadly coronavirus. She called it “devastating” news and Trump the “biggest threat” to Americans. Whitmer, a Democrat whose state was hit hard by COVID-19 in the spring, reacted after the release of excerpts from journalist Bob Woodward’s book. Woodward said the president acknowledged being alarmed by the virus in February, even as he was telling the nation it was no worse than the flu and would swiftly disappear. Trump says he was being a “cheerleader” for the country and trying to keep everyone calm.