President Trump said he is not concerned about getting coronavirus at indoor campaign rallies because he speaks from a stage “very far away” from attendees.
“I’m on a stage that’s very far away, and so I’m not at all concerned,” Trump said Sunday in an interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Trump headlined two large rallies in Nevada over the weekend, including one indoors at Xtreme Manufacturing in Henderson, defying state coronavirus rules limiting gatherings to no more than 50 people. Thousands of supporters gathered on Saturday and Sunday to attend the events. Few wore masks and there was no social distancing.
The president has faced pushback from health experts and critics for his decision to hold the indoor rally. Dr. Anthony Fauci, a key member of the White House coronavirus task force, has expressed frustration at the lack of masks worn by attendees of Trump’s campaign events.
Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) on Sunday accused the president of “taking reckless and selfish actions that are putting countless lives in danger here in Nevada” by “knowingly packing thousands into an indoor venue to hold a political rally.”
“This is an insult to every Nevadan who has followed the directives, made sacrifices, and put their neighbors before themselves. It’s also a direct threat to all of the recent progress we’ve made, and could potentially set us back,” Sisolak tweeted.
In the interview with Review-Journal, Trump lashed out at Sisolak, claiming the governor’s directive forced the campaign to change the initial locations for the rallies and suggesting Sisolak did so for political purposes.
“This governor, what he did is a disgrace,” Trump said. “He made it impossible for these people to give us the sites. They were exterior sites.”
The Trump campaign defended the decision to hold the large indoor rally on Sunday, likening it to the racial justice protests that have occurred across the country in recent months following the May 25 police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
“If you can join tens of thousands of people protesting in the streets, gamble in a casino, or burn down small businesses in riots, you can gather peacefully under the 1st Amendment to hear from the President of the United States,” said Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh.
The campaign administered temperature checks to those entering the venue on Sunday, provided access to hand sanitizer and handed out masks that attendees were encouraged to wear, though many chose not to wear a face covering.
The following day, Vice President Pence held an indoor rally in Wisconsin.