As Minnesota reached its highest-ever single-day coronavirus case count, Donald Trump attacked the state’s governor Tim Walz for limiting his campaign rally attendance before a brief campaign speech to the roughly 250 people in attendance.
“All because the governor wants to play games,” the president said before shaking hands and tossing campaign hats to supporters in an overflow area at a rally at the Rochester International Airport on Friday.
“He’s a weak governor, he’s done a terrible job, he doesn’t know what the hell he’s doing," he said.
Following a relatively brief 22-minute speech racing through his applause lines, the president returned to Air Force One.
The president criticised the state’s Democratic Governor Walz and attorney general Keith Ellison as he spoke to a limited crowd of 250 people, claiming Minnesota officials are responsible for “cancel culture” and are attempting to ”take away your freedom and your rights."
More than 3,100 Covid-19 cases were reported on Friday, marking the second consecutive day of record-breaking daily cases, eight months in to the public health crisis that has infected at least 9 million Americans and killed more than 229,000 people, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Health officials warned the president’s campaign that the rally could pose a significant risk of spreading the disease.
The Minnesota Department of Health has linked at least 28 Covid-19 cases to other Trump campaign events in the state, including at least 16 infections connected to a rally in Bemidji.
Rochester International Airport, where supporters waited for the president’s address, is roughly 10 miles from the Mayo Clinic, which said that “preventive measures such as masking, good hand hygiene and social distancing are essential steps to stop the spread of the virus, protect our communities and our neighbors."
“Community members who choose to attend a large event that exceeds recommended guidelines should contact their healthcare provider and be evaluated for possible Covid-19 testing,” the clinic said in a statement ahead of the rally.
The governor had issued an executive order limiting crowd sizes to 250 people.
Mr Trump told the crowd to “remember” the governor’s order, calling it “a small thing but a horrible thing to thousands of people.”
“We depend on your loyalty,” he said.
The president and his Democratic opponent Joe Biden held dueling rallies in the state on Friday, as the former vice president held a “drive-thru” rally at the State Fairgrounds, where he made his second visit to the swing state amid the campaign.
Mr Trump narrowly won the state in 2016, edging out Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton by a margin of less than 2 per cent.
His single event in Minnesota followed back-to-back events in Michigan. On Saturday, the campaign is expected to visit battleground Pennsylvania.