Trump spars with Minnesota officials over crowd limits ahead of rally

President Trump and his campaign lashed out at state officials in Minnesota over restrictions on large gatherings ahead of the president’s rally scheduled for later Friday.

State and local officials have capped large gatherings at 250 people in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus. The limit drew the ire of Trump, who typically draws thousands of people to his rallies at airplane hangars.

“We’re having a problem with some people in Minnesota where they have a cap because Biden goes there and he can’t draw flies, he can’t draw anybody,” Trump said, referencing Democratic nominee Joe Biden.

The president claimed 25,000 of his supporters want to attend the event Friday in Rochester, Minn., which is officially being dubbed a “Make America Great Again Peaceful Protest.”

“So they thought I’d cancel. But I’m not canceling. So we’ll find out what happens,” Trump said.

The Trump campaign late Thursday issued a statement blaming the “free speech-stifling dictates” of Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz (D) and Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison (D).

It remains to be seen whether the Trump campaign will abide by the 250 person limit set out by the state. Vice President Pence held an event in Hibbing, Minn., earlier in the week that drew close to 600 people, according to local reports.

Both Trump and Biden will be in Minnesota on Friday campaigning in a state that hasn’t been carried by a Republican in decades. However, the Trump campaign views the state as a battleground in the election.

The candidates’ approaches to campaigning in the middle of a pandemic have been markedly different.

Trump’s rallies typically feature supporters packed closely together. Those directly behind the president who are in view of cameras wear masks throughout, but the vast majority of other attendees typically do not wear masks.

The president also speaks optimistically about the pandemic in a way that does not match the reality that cases, hospitalizations and deaths are all on the rise.

Campaign officials have repeatedly defended holding mass events in the middle of a pandemic, pointing to the right to free speech and assembly.

Biden holds much smaller events with attendees either spaced out by markings on the ground, or drive-in events where supporters remain in or next to their vehicles.

Tags 2020 election Donald Trump Joe Biden Keith Ellison Midwest Minnesota Swing state Tim Walz Trump rally

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