Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, said the Trump event planned for Thursday was “very distressing,” while the Biden event, planned for Wednesday, was fine with her, the Detroit Free Press reported.
The difference, Whitmer said, was that the Biden event would be encouraging attendees to wear masks as a coronavirus precaution – while she was less certain about the Trump event.
Whitmer made the remarks Tuesday evening during an appearance on CNN, on the same night that President Trump was appearing at a rally in Winston-Salem, N.C.
Behind the president Tuesday night, many supporters could be seen wearing bright red face masks that said either “TRUMP” or “MAGA.”
But Whitmer told CNN’s Anderson Cooper she was worried that Trump would encourage attendees at his Michigan event to arrive without masks.
“We anticipate that he will be descending on this state and perhaps encouraging people to come maskless,” Whitmer said. “This is very distressing. I would love to see the leader of our country embrace masks and encourage people to do the right thing.”
Whitmer said she had no similar concerns about the event for Biden, who reportedly had considered Whitmer to be his running mate before selecting U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif.
“I know that they are scrupulously following the science,” Whitmer said about the Biden campaign, and “they want to keep their supporters and the general public safe.”
CNN’s Cooper asked Whitmer whether she planned to communicate her concerns to the Trump campaign but she did not respond to the question directly, the Free Press reported.
“I don’t doubt that there will be people who want to show up at that (Trump) event and will take the lead from the man himself,” she said, “and drop their guard and could subject themselves to COVID-19.”
In an interview with Michigan’s 9 & 10 News on Tuesday, Whitmer said the debate over masks was the most difficult battle regarding the coronavirus in her state, while her decision to close schools was the toughest for her.
President Trump is scheduled to appear at 7 p.m. Thursday at an airport hangar near MBS International Airport in Freeland, about 116 miles northwest of Detroit.
Biden is scheduled to appear at 1:15 p.m. Wednesday in Warren, about 20 miles north of downtown Detroit.
Whitmer has been among the nation’s most vocal governors in support of coronavirus mitigation efforts – with her orders frequently resulting in protests against her policies, both at the Statehouse in Lansing and near her state-owned residence.