Minnesota Democrats try to cap Trump rally at 250 attendees
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President Trump will limit his Rochester, Minn., rally audience to 250 people on Friday, in accordance with directives from Gov. Tim Walz intended to help address a spike in cases.
The Minnesota Department of Health recorded 2,872 positive tests on Thursday — an all-time daily record for the state. Hospitalizations and deaths have also been rising.
"We were planning for as many as 25,000 people in Minnesota," the president said in a tweet late Thursday that took a swipe at the state's Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar, an ally of liberal Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. "Now, the governor, at the last moment, will only allow the first 250 people to attend. Riots plus Omar = WIN!"
A crowd cheers as Air Force One arrives with President Donald Trump at Duluth, Minn., International Airport on Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2020. (AP Photo/Jack Rendulich)
The campaign sent a notice to attendees on Thursday informing them of changes to the rally at Rochester International Airport and accusing Walz and Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison of stifling free speech. Walz extended Minnesota's emergency peacetime order earlier this month.
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"Without question, Minnesota Democrats had hoped that the president would simply cancel the event, but he will not allow partisan politicians to deprive people of their First Amendment rights to gather peacefully to hear directly from the President of the United States," the campaign's notice said.
Ellison said in a Thursday statement that after consulting with state labor and health officials as well as city, county and airport officials, he and his partners asked the Republican National Committee and Trump campaign for a COVID-19 preparedness plan for the rally in writing but did not receive responses.
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"We did not cancel this event: Indeed, we have no authority to cancel events and have never cancelled an event," Ellison wrote in response to reports that he was considering such a move.
Voters check in to vote at the Hennepin County Government Center, on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
Minnesota health officials' event guidelines limit crowds to a "maximum of 250 people in a single self-contained space," as well as outdoor settings.
"We continue to see an alarming level of community spread," Minnesota Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm said in a Thursday statement. "This isn’t caused by one or two big events. It’s driven by thousands of seemingly small decisions people are making every day without realizing the impact those decisions are having on their neighbors and their community."
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The health department confirmed to Fox News on Tuesday that 24 positive COVID-19 cases were linked to Trump campaign events in the state, and one was linked to a Biden campaign event.
The Biden campaign will also be hosting a rally in Minnesota on Friday as the race between the two candidates tightens in the battleground state four days before Nov. 3.
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