President Donald Trump returned to Michigan on Friday for a rally in Waterford Township where he touted his large crowd, just one day after the state and country set separate records for most daily cases of COVID-19.
Michigan reported 3,675 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, while the United States reported a total of 87,164 new cases. Both are record highs.
Trump compared his Oakland County crowd, which featured thousands of supporters gathered in close proximity to one another – many not wearing masks – to Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s events, which have mostly been drive-in style events with limited numbers of attendees allowed in.
“This is a great crowd; we have a lot of great crowds,” Trump said. “I’m watching these Biden rallies, it’s like, there’s nobody. Of course, he says that they want to do it that way on purpose, but the problem is nobody shows up.”
Despite the new records, Trump falsely claimed that the United States is “still rounding the corner,” even without a vaccine.
“It’s always ‘cases are up’ and people go crazy, you know. Now let’s say you live with it,” Trump said. “You know what to do, we understand it now, you’ve got to understand it.”
Health experts have said that the best tools we have to fight COVID-19, in the absence of a vaccine, are precautions like wearing a mask in public, not gathering in large groups and maintaining at least six feet of distance between individuals – precautions that have not been enforced at Trump’s campaign stops.
More than 9 million Americans have tested positive for COVID-19, and more than 229,000 have died of the virus. In Michigan, there are 174,388 cases and 7,309 Michigan residents have died from the virus.
The GOP president falsely claimed that the country’s record high case numbers were partially caused by doctors inflating numbers to get additional funding.
“They have different ways of counting. You know, in Germany, if you have a bad heart and you’re ready to die, or you have if you have cancer and you’re going to be dying soon, and you catch COVID, that happens, we mark it down as COVID,” Trump said. “You know, our doctors get more money if somebody dies of COVID. You know that, right? I mean, our doctors are very smart people. So what they do is they say ‘I’m sorry, but, you know, everybody dies of COVID.’”
The virus has a number of side effects that can worsen pre-existing conditions, leading to medical complications the patients may not have otherwise experienced.
Biden said in a statement that Trump was only offering “lies and distractions” at his rally.
“With 4 days until Election Day, working families in Michigan are hurting,” Biden said. “More than 167,000 Michiganders have tested positive for COVID-19, cases are on the rise, and hundreds of thousands of Michiganders are out of work. And yet President Trump is only offering more lies and distractions — not a plan to get the virus under control or to create good-paying, middle-class jobs.”
Trump once again attacked Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, saying that Michigan needs to be re-opened. Most businesses are already allowed to be open, and schools can choose at the district level whether to return to in person instruction or to remain virtual.
“You’ve got to get this governor, you’ve got to get her to open,” Trump said. “I don’t think she likes me too much. And I’ve done a great job for her. You know what, on COVID, the China virus, I’ve done a phenomenal job for her.”
Attendees at the rally chanted “lock her up” at the mention of the governor’s name, to which Trump responded, “not me” before adding “they blame me every time that happens, every time I mention her name, Crooked Hillary’s [Clinton] name, Joe Biden’s name, frankly.”
This is the third-straight Trump rally in Michigan this month where attendees broke into the chant against Whitmer, who was the subject of a recent extremist right-wing plot to allegedly kidnap and kill her.
Trump attacked absentee ballots during the rally, falsely claiming that they are not secure and acknowledging that they could take several days to be counted, leaving the country without a result on Election Day. Trump voted absentee last week in Florida.
“There’s something happening, you’re going to see that on the third, though the Supreme Court would probably like to delay it for a long time it looks like,” Trump said.
Trump at one point suggested that “you burn the American flag, you go to jail for one year” and said that if there protests turn violent in the country, “the federal government is always prepared to come in. We will extinguish those problems very, very quickly.”
Trump’s stop in Waterford Township was the first of several rallies he’ll hold in Michigan in the final days of the election.
He’ll also hold rallies in Washington Township in Macomb County at 11 a.m. Sunday, Traverse City at 5 p.m. Monday and at 10:30 p.m. Grand Rapids Monday – seemingly his last campaign stop of the cycle.
Trump also held his last campaign stop of the 2016 election cycle in Grand Rapids, taking the stage after midnight so that it was already Election Day.
Biden will be back in Michigan on Saturday for drive-in rallies with former President Barack Obama in Flint at 1:45 p.m. and Detroit at 5:30 p.m.
There also is the possibility that either campaign announces additional campaign stops in Michigan for the candidates or their surrogates.
More than 2.6 million Michigan residents had already returned absentee ballots as of Friday morning. That’s nearly half of the 5.08 million total ballots cast in the 2008 presidential election when Obama was first elected – which had the highest turnout in Michigan history.
More than 3.3 million Michigan residents have requested absentee ballots, meaning there’s about 700,00 that have yet to be returned.
Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson has warned that voters should return their absentee ballots to a drop box or directly to their local clerk due to delays in the U.S. Postal Service meaning they may not arrive on time to be counted if mailed.