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Trump To Restart Political Rallies This Month Despite Coronavirus Pandemic

President Trump speaks to the press on the South Lawn of the White House.
Alex Wong
Getty Images
President Trump speaks to the press on the South Lawn of the White House.

President Trump this month will begin hitting the road once again to make his pitch for reelection in the 2020 White House race, despite the deadly coronavirus pandemic, which continues to wreak havoc on the lives and livelihoods of households across the country.

"Americans are ready to get back to action and so is President Trump. The Great American Comeback is real and the rallies will be tremendous. You'll again see the kind of crowds and enthusiasm that Sleepy Joe Biden can only dream of," campaign manager Brad Parscale said in a statement provided to NPR.

Trump is set to attend an in-person fundraiser for the first time since pandemic restrictions went into place in Dallas on Thursday.

The news that the president would begin holding rallies in the next two weeks was first reported by Politico on Monday. The Politico report, which the campaign confirms as accurate, also said Trump's political advisers are still determining where to hold rallies and what safety protocols to put in place.

The Trump campaign did not comment on the specifics of safety protocols, including whether masks and temperature checks would be mandated for entry. But in line with the president's well-documented affinity for branded merchandise, "Make America Great Again" masks are a possibility, as floated by Parscale in a tweet last month.

The president has made no secret of the restlessness he's felt in the executive mansion since the start of the coronavirus crisis.

At an event last month in Michigan — one of a handful of outings the White House arranged to mark the soft relaunch of the president's travel schedule — Trump expressed his contempt at the idea of holding socially distanced rallies with mandatory empty seating and said he would plan to hold large outdoor rallies in states like Georgia or Florida — "whoever opens up first."

"Since the day I came down the escalator with our future First Lady, we've never had an empty seat. You know that. And we'd have thousands of people we sent away. And I think the demand now, from what we see, is greater than ever before. We're going to have to go to certain states where we're able to — look, I don't want to have a stadium where you're supposed to have a person and then seven empty seats, and then another person. So we might do some outdoor big ones," Trump said last month.

"The demand has been incredible to get going with the rallies. I just hear the music in the background. I'm saying, we've had rallies like nobody has ever had, and we would love to get back to that."

Trump also had a spat with the city of Charlotte and the governor of North Carolina, during which he threatened to move the Republican National Convention after local officials refused to allow packed arenas.

Public experts continue to warn against large gatherings of people, even as the country has begun in the past several weeks to reopen the economy. The coronavirus crisis has already killed more than 100,000 people in the United States — the highest number of fatalities of any country in the world.

In Phase One of reopening, per the White House's own guidelines, gatherings of more than 10 people should be avoided. In Phase Two, congregations should be kept to no more than 50 people.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, Trump's rival in the Nov. 3 presidential election, has spent most of the past few months in isolation at his home in Delaware. He has left for a few appearances and held a number of virtual events and fundraisers, and has offered to debate Trump, either in person or remotely.

Tamara Keith contributed to this report.

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Alana Wise joined WAMU in September 2018 as the 2018-2020 Audion Reporting Fellow for . Selected as one of 10 recipients nationwide of the Audion Reporting Fellowship, Alana works in the WAMU newsroom as part of a national reporting project and is spending two years focusing on the impact of guns in the Washington region.
Alana Wise
Alana Wise is a politics reporter on the Washington desk at NPR.