- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 1, 2020

The White House on Thursday defended President Trump’s decision to hold Wisconsin rallies this weekend even though the state is seeing an alarming surge in COVID-19 cases.

“The president believes people have a First Amendment right to political speech. The president is having a rally. People can choose whether to come,” press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said.

Wisconsin is seeing one of the nation’s worst increases in known coronavirus infections, with almost 17,000 cases in the last week alone. Hospitalizations are also up.

Mr. Trump advises Americans to maintain physical distancing and wear masks if they cannot do so, but his rallies feature supporters packed shoulder-to-shoulder with only sporadic mask use.

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, recently said Mr. Trump should either stay away or tell supporters to wear masks in La Crosse and Green Bay rallies on Saturday.

Mr. Trump defended his rallies at Tuesday night’s presidential debate. He said his campaign largely moved the events outside, which is considered safer than indoor gatherings.

Ms. McEnany focused on perceptions, saying there appears to be a double standard for Trump supporters, while those who engaged in racial-justice protests over the summer didn’t face as much criticism for gathering in large numbers.

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