Whitmer would consider trying to block Trump rally in Michigan

Craig Mauger
The Detroit News

CORRECTION: The number of deaths linked to COVID-19 in Michigan is 5,846 as of Sunday. The number was incorrect in an earlier version of this story.

Lansing — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer “would think very seriously about” trying to stop President Donald Trump from holding a rally in Michigan during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to an Associated Press report.

The Democratic governor made the comments before Trump held a campaign rally that drew an estimated crowd of about 6,200 in Oklahoma on Saturday — his first rally since the pandemic hit — the report says.

Whitmer said she wasn’t aware of specifically how she would block a potential rally here. And no plans for such an event in Michigan have been announced.

Under an executive order Whitmer issued June 5, indoor gatherings in Michigan can't exceed 50 people. Outdoor gatherings can't exceed 250 people.

President Donald Trump supporters cheer Eric Trump, the son of President Donald Trump, not pictured, before a Trump campaign rallym Saturday in Tulsa, Okla.

"We know that congregating without masks, especially at an indoor facility, is the worst thing to do in the midst of a global pandemic,” Whitmer said last week, according to the Associated Press. “I just know we have limitations on the number of people that can gather and that we’re taking this seriously."

Tiffany Brown, a spokeswoman for the governor, said she had nothing to add Monday to Whitmer's comments.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has guidance on its website for events occurring during the pandemic. In part, the guidance says, "The size of an event or gathering should be determined based on state, local, territorial or tribal safety laws and regulations."

In 2016, Trump became the first Republican presidential nominee to win Michigan since 1988. He beat Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton by 10,704 votes, his closest margin of victory nationally.

Republicans have been working to try to retain Michigan this fall in a race against former Vice President Joe Biden.

Whitmer has criticized the Trump administration's handling of the novel coronavirus and has been floated as a potential running mate for Biden in recent months.

The governor's "audition to be Joe Biden's VP will not diminish Michiganders' enthusiasm to re-elect President Trump," said Chris Gustafson, spokesman for the Trump Victory campaign.

"We look forward to safely holding events in Michigan when President Trump and Vice President Pence return to the Great Lakes State," Gustafson said.

Vice President Mike Pence visited Macomb County on Thursday, where he had lunch with Republican U.S. Senate candidate John James and spoke to a crowd of about 250 people at an outdoor venue near two businesses in Sterling Heights.

The individuals in the crowd at the event spread their chairs out to socially distance themselves from one another. But few people were wearing masks during the festivities.

In Tulsa on Saturday, most attendees for the rally didn't wear face masks either, according to the Associated Press.

On Thursday, Whitmer extended Michigan's state of emergency through July 16 — a date that's 110 days before the Nov. 3 election. The state of emergency declaration gives the governor the ability to take unilateral measures to combat the virus that's been linked to 5,846 deaths here.

The governor lifted the state's stay-at-home order on June 1. However, restrictions on public gatherings and capacity within businesses remain.