President Donald Trump has hosted his first indoor rally in three months in front of a packed, mask-less crowd in Nevada, in open defiance of state regulations and his own administration’s pandemic health guidelines.
Eager to project a sense of normality, Trump soaked up the raucous cheers inside a warehouse in Henderson, outside of Las Vegas.
Nevada’s Democratic governor Steve Sisolak has limited in-person gatherings indoors and outdoors to 50 people since May, a recommendation based on White House reopening guidelines.
In a statement released just before the rally began, Sisolak said Trump was “taking reckless and selfish actions that are putting countless lives in danger here in Nevada”.
“To put it bluntly: he didn’t have the guts to make tough choices,” Sisolak said of Trump’s handling of the virus.
“He left that to governors and the states. Now he’s decided he doesn’t have to respect our State’s laws. As usual, he doesn’t believe the rules apply to him.”
The city of Henderson informed Xtreme Manufacturing on Sunday that the event as planned was in direct violation of the governor’s Covid-19 emergency directives and that penalties would follow. The Trump campaign pushed back against the restrictions.
“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,” campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh said.
To this point, the campaign has not been played out as a choice election between Trump and his Democratic opponent, Joe Biden, but rather a referendum on the president’s handling of the coronavirus. By wide margins, Americans have disapproved of Trump’s leadership, as the United States has suffered more deaths than any other nation.
Therefore, the president’s campaign believes it needs to change the subject and project the sense – despite evidence to the contrary – that the pandemic was winding down and that a vaccine was on the horizon.
Part of the plan involves creating images of normality, like the packed White House lawn for Trump’s convention speech, though it was unclear if viewers were reassured or frightened.
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