WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump was trying to move past revelations that he was determined to play down the threat of the coronavirus as he headed for a rally in battleground Michigan Thursday. But the president was facing renewed pushback from local leaders worried that his rallies are growing in size and flouting public health guidelines intended to halt the spread of the virus. This week, the state of Nevada became the first to scuttle Trump’s plans for rallies initially set for Las Vegas and Reno. Michigan’s Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has also raised alarms about Thursday’s event in Freeland, which is near Saginaw.
The first of several thousand of the president’s supporters started lining up late last night.
This part of the state Trump is visiting played a pivotal role in his winning Michigan by a little more than 10- thousand votes in 2016.
Recent polls have shown Democratic nominee, former Vice President Joe Biden, leading in the state.
Biden met with unionized auto workers and steelworkers in suburban Detroit yesterday. His wife Dr. Jill Biden, is scheduled to visit the state next week.
Meantime, 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.