JANESVILLE – President Donald Trump on Saturday defied guidance from health officials to rally supporters, contending he saved nearby Kenosha from looting and arson this summer, and proved with his own recovery that his response to COVID-19 is working.
The president didn’t mention that Wisconsin is one of the nation’s pandemic hotspots, with nearly 4,000 new cases reported just on Friday and a surge of infections that has pushed state officials to open a field hospital to give relief to hospitals in the northeastern part of the state.
Instead, he ticked off what by now are familiar subjects along the Trump campaign trail — law enforcement, border security, the economy.
“I wish you had a Republican governor because, frankly, you’ve got to open your state up. You’ve got to open it up,” Trump told the crowd — even though Wisconsin currently has no statewide restrictions on gatherings, businesses or schools.
Trump is a little more than two weeks away from the day he needs Wisconsin voters to give him another win. By coming to Janesville, Trump returned to the place where he held his first Wisconsin rally in 2016, when he narrowly won the state that delivered to him the presidency.
“If we win Wisconsin, we win the whole ball game,” Trump said, discussing why he visited the state on a chilly, windy Saturday evening. “You think I’m doing this for my health? I’m not doing this for my health.”
He arrived in the Badger State trailing his Democratic opponent, Joe Biden, in state polling and as Democratic leaders are blaming him and other Republicans for a surge of coronavirus cases.
Trump told the crowd the election was a choice between “a Trump super recovery and a Biden depression.”
“If he gets in you’ll have the greatest depression in the history of this country,” Trump said. “Your stocks will go to hell.”
Trump also warned of companies refusing to do business with Democratic administrations, citing Foxconn Technology Group as an example of a company that doesn’t want to invest “with these people.” Wisconsin under former Republican Gov. Scott Walker promised Foxconn Technology Group up to $4 billion in taxpayer help in exchange for a $10 billion manufacturing facility with 13,000 jobs. Trump helped break ground for the facility, and used it at the time as evidence that he would bring back manufacturing jobs.
Notably, three years after that deal, the company has only created 281 jobs and not qualified for many of the subsidies it sought.
No mask requirements
Thousands of followers packed together on an airport tarmac to hear the speech. Plenty wore masks, especially those sitting near the president and within view of cameras filming the speech. But many others did not appear worried about the rally spreading the virus, and didn’t wear masks.
The event was held a day after Wisconsin posted a record for the most coronavirus cases in a day — 3,861. The number of people hospitalized because of COVID-19 has tripled in Wisconsin in the last month and nearly 1,600 people in the state have died from it.
Despite the worsening situation in Wisconsin, attendees of Trump’s rally were neither required to wear masks nor stay distant from…