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Prospect of 'maskless' Trump rally Thursday 'distressing,' Whitmer says

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Tuesday called the prospect of President Donald Trump "descending" on the state of Michigan to hold a gathering of people who may or may not be wearing a mask "distressing to say the least."

Whitmer in an interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper said it was possible Trump would encourage people to come "maskless" and worried the Thursday rally would reverse progress made in battling the virus.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Tuesday called the prospect of a Trump rally in Michigan where participants may not be wearing masks "distressing" in an interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper.

"We've pushed our curve down, we've saved thousands of lives, we've gotten people back to work," Whitmer said. "And events like this threaten all that sacrifice that we've made. I would love to see the leader of our country embrace masks and encourage people to do the right thing."

Vice President Joe Biden, for whom Whitmer serves as a national campaign chair, is coming to Michigan on Wednesday. He is expected to deliver remarks in Warren "on his plan to ensure the future is Made in America by all of America's workers."

Only pooled press selected by the campaign will attend. 

Trump will deliver remarks from an airport hangar on Thursday in Freeland, near Saginaw. His last stop in Michigan was May 21. Pence visited Traverse City on Aug. 28. 

Biden, Whitmer said, is "scrupulously following the science," but the governor seemed dubious the same precautions would be taken at Thursday's Trump event. 

"I don't doubt that there will be people who will want to show up at that event and will take the lead from the man himself and drop their guard and could subject themselves to COVID-19," Whitmer said.

Whitmer said the race in Michigan is "tightening up" and referred to polling indicating as much. A Detroit News and WDIV-TV poll released Tuesday showed the race between Trump and Biden tightening, with the former vice president holding a 47% to 42% lead over Trump.

"I'm not surprised by that. I think that's precisely why you see both of the candidates here in the state this week, and I would anticipate seeing them many more times between now and Election Day," Whitmer said, arguing people in Michigan were "hurting" and worse off than they were four years ago. 

eleblanc@detroitnews.com