WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is running as the “law and order” candidate. But that hasn't stopped him and his campaign from openly defying state emergency orders and flouting his own administration’s coronavirus guidelines as he holds ever-growing rallies in battleground states.

Democratic governors and local leaders have urged the president to reconsider the events, warning that he's putting lives at risk. But they have largely not tried to block the gatherings of thousands of people, which Trump and his team deem “peaceful protests” protected by the First Amendment.

“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," Tim Murtaugh, a Trump campaign spokesperson, said in a statement.

Trump’s refusal to abide by health guidelines — even those crafted by his own administration — underscores the extent to which he believes projecting an image of normalcy is vital to winning in November, even as the country approaches 200,000 deaths from COVID-19.

Trump has tried to use this summer's mass protests over racial injustice and police misconduct as cover for his rallies, making the case that, if demonstrators can gather en masse, so can his supporters. So far, Democratic governors have declined to stand in his way, refusing to become a foil to Trump and feed into his narrative that liberals are trying to deny Republicans their First Amendment rights.

Trump’s campaign insisted that it takes appropriate health precautions, including handing out masks and hand sanitizer and checking the temperatures of rallygoers.

But images of thousands of maskless supporters standing shoulder to shoulder remain jarring in a country where sports are still played in empty arenas and concerts have been largely banned. That's especially true for those who have lost loved ones or spent months isolating at home and worry that rallies will further spread infection, undermining hard-fought progress. An indoor rally that Trump held in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in June was blamed for a surge of virus infections there.

Trump held an indoor rally at the Xtreme Manufacturing facility in Henderson, Nevada, on Sunday night. The state restricts gatherings to 50 people — based on White House reopening guidelines —- but thousands of supporters packed into the warehouse space nonetheless. Relatively few people wore masks.

“This is an insult to every Nevadan who has followed the directives, made sacrifices, and put their neighbors before themselves," said Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak, a Democrat.

The city of Henderson on Monday announced that it was fining Xtreme Manufacturing $3,000. Sisolak slammed the rally as “shameful, dangerous and irresponsible." But it does not appear the governor would try to prevent a replay. If Trump returns to the state for another rally, said COVID-19 response director Caleb Cage, state officials will continue to encourage his campaign to follow state law and directives.

In some other states, the rallies are legal. In North Carolina, an order signed by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper limits outdoor gatherings to 50 people and mandates masks in public, but “activities constituting the exercise of First Amendment rights” are exempt.

The state’s top public health official, Dr. Mandy Cohen, played down calls for stricter enforcement last week as she criticized Trump for holding a rally at the Winston-Salem airport, where thousands of supporters crammed together without masks.

“This isn’t really about mandates and enforcement. It’s about leadership,” Cohen told reporters.

“By using the First Amendment exemption for mass gatherings under the governor’s executive order in this way, they’re making it much harder for North Carolina to get our children back in school and people back to work safely,” said Dory MacMillan, a spokesperson for Cooper.

In Michigan, political speech is exempt from Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s order limiting the size of outdoor gatherings. And while Whitmer’s office issued a memo saying people engaging in First Amendment activities still must adhere to social distancing measures, the state hasn't moved to enforce the rules at Trump's rallies or during protests.

“We hope the president would care enough about his supporters and their friends and families that he would encourage social distancing and mask wearing,” said Ryan Jarvi, a spokesperson for Democratic Attorney General Dana Nessel.

Nevada is one state where Trump has encountered resistance. His campaign had originally planned to hold a pair of rallies over the weekend in Las Vegas and Reno, but those plans were scuttled after the Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority warned one of the hosts that the rally would violate the governor’s restrictions and the terms of the company’s lease. Trump's campaign immediately moved to blame Sisolak for the pushback, but the governor's office insisted it had had no involvement.

Trump told the Las Vegas Review-Journal in an interview Sunday that “he did not believe he was subject” to the order and blamed Sisolak for forcing him to abandon plans for the outdoors rallies.

“They canceled six different sites because the governor wouldn’t let it happen, all external sites,” the president said. The campaign did not respond to questions about what sites they had tried.

Upcoming rallies in Minnesota and Wisconsin on Friday will be held in open-air airplane hangars, and neither state caps attendance on outdoor events, even though COVID-19 cases have been surging in Wisconsin.

Ashley Mukasa, a spokesperson for Winnebago County Health Department, said the county doesn’t have any local ordinances that would allow it to issue or enforce local health orders. However, the agency briefed Trump’s advance team about the statewide mask mandate, she said.

“They wanted to avoid breaking any laws,” Mukasa said.

In Minnesota, where Democratic Gov. Tim Walz has long been reluctant to spar publicly with Trump, the virus order exempts anything that would limit "the movement of federal officials in Minnesota while acting in their official capacity.” Beltrami County’s public health director, Cynthia Borgen, said the state's health department had decided the president’s visit would fall under that exemption — even though he will be there to campaign.

For one activist from the state, Trump’s co-opting of the term peaceful protest represents “a new low.”

“His actions are a mockery of legitimate peaceful protests that have been happening in Minnesota and around the country regarding our stances against police violence and brutality,” said Nekima Levy Armstrong, a civil rights lawyer and former president of the Minneapolis NAACP.

Trump on Monday again drew hundreds of supporters to an indoor event in Phoenix that his campaign advertised as a “Latinos for Trump roundtable,” limiting scrutiny, but that had the feel of something different.

“This is supposed to be a roundtable, but it looks like a rally,” he told the crowd.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican, has consistently refused to criticize Trump for holding large gatherings in the state, including a packed campaign event at a Phoenix church in June, when Arizona was seeing a surge in coronavirus cases.

“The constitutional rights of Arizonans are going to be protected,” Ducey said. “They’ve been protected the entire time. They’re nonnegotiable.”


Associated Press writers Todd Richmond in Madison, Wis., David Eggert in Lansing, Mich., Bryan Anderson, in Raleigh, N.C., Sam Metz in Carson City, Nev., Scott Sonner in Reno, Nev., Aaron Morrison in New York, Steve Karnowski in Minneapolis and Jonathan J. Cooper in Phoenix contributed to this report.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

(27) comments


Biden appears to have moved from his basement bunker to empty rooms and empty fields. Wonder why the MSM is not showing us the widescreen shots from the back of the room?



I thought the CDC, under Trump’s administration call for avoidIng large gatherings, social distancing, were a mask 😷. Baseball, basketball, soccer, tennis, football, NASCAR, all entertainment selections, and all large corporations, all recognize the science of congregating devastation at great cost to their businesses. Covid -19, over 195,000 dead in seven months. But Bosco, you know better 🤷‍♂️?

Is that Sue?


Keep trying bosco. Your button pushing is getting tiresome. Try reading a good boo, I hear Bob Woodward put out a great one recently.


As is your trolling and button pushing, hayduke2. According to your leader Fido, the forum is for discussion - something you don't mind as long as you and the LLBTT agree with your circle of jerks.





Hey bosco, I've been in the can, you hear anything worth replying to lately?


CD....nothing much really. Just the usual LLBTT circle of jerks. I did hear their projectors whirring away. Beyond name calling they don't have much left in their playbook, except playing that dog-eared race card and even that doesn't mean much.

Looking forward to the debates and see how Wheezy does without pre-arranged questions and his teleprompter.



Yeah, I'm REALLY looking forward to the debates. [thumbup]


Wheezy did a press conference this afternoon. After reading from the teleprompter he said "I would be happy to take some questions now, if that would be okay, let me get my list here"

Looking forward to the debates.



Let’s see;

It was indoors

Trump is the only one practicing social distancing

Trump is tested on a daily bases

Those that come in contact with Trump are tested

All the attendees where herded, no social distancing, no masks

Trump cares not for his on supporters, putting their lives at risk

That makes them a bunch of “suckers”.


It didn't take all those factors to make up the suckers who voted for Clinton four years ago, or the suckers who are voting for Wheezy the Draft Dodger this year, aw. Why do think that is?


Pitiful response CD


Let me rephrase, hay;

It didn't take as many factors to make up the suckers who voted for Clinton four years ago, or these factors for the suckers who are voting for Wheezy the Draft Dodger this year, aw. Why do think that is?

Happy now?


Maybe because they don’t want an Idiocracy Government anymore. Four years is enough. Speech of “draft dodgers” magically, Trump’s bone spurs are no longer there. That’s a medical miracle. Bone spurs are life. 😳


And those who vote for Trump are what? Maybe the losers Trump cultivates CD.


Yep, keep it up hay. Calling us losers is just like your queen calling us deplorables four years ago and we all know how that worked out, now don't we? [lol]


CD, name calling is about all that's left since they can't keep up with Bidenz flip flops. It's the LLBTT's favorite since they can't really defend a candidate who can't answer a pre-arranged question with the teleprompter. He's like Aunt Bethany from Christmas Vacation.



Do you get your panties in a bunch because of the loser comment but it’s okay to call anyone who disagrees suckers. What a baby.


And while Wheezy is plagiarizing Trump's America First plan, Trump brokers a middle-east peace deal. And Pelosi calls it "a distraction"

What will the Harris-Biden ticket say about it? What's on the teleprompter for tomorrow?



Glad to see Cd and Bosco are still having a sweet bromance.


Cd, you can rephrase it any way you want... Trump ( law enforcement?🙇‍♂️) is holding rallies against the state’s restrictions in a pandemic. Admit it, you are simply a member of the Trump cult. Or are you one of the dotards that Kim referred to? You can’t believe the CDC, NIH, and medical expertise, the world only Trump, a buffoon. “ It’s a hoax.“ You believe that? And you would willingly join in a Trump rally of trump followers, herded together to here his gibberish?

No social distancing, no mask, congregating in large crowds.

You should organize your own rally or peaceful protest, whatever you wanna call it, in downtown Frederick support Trump. You can call it “science has no merit”, “stupidity is best” “, “lying is a good thing”, “ morality has no merit “, better yet, “dumb people matter”.


"Glad to see Cd and Bosco are still having a sweet bromance." Exactly what we would expect from someone who's been outwitted in the comments and can't come up with an adult reply. [lol]


“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."

Exactly. If the Dim mayors were so concerned about keeping the virus contained, they wouldn't have allowed all those riots............... would they? [lol]




Obviously, Trump isn’t concerned about the safety of his own supporters or containing the virus, as long as he doesn’t get it.🤷‍♂️


Ahhhh....you're impressive in your total brainwashing by a pathetic conman.


It appears my "total brainwashing" has created a point you can't refute, duffy.

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