President Donald Trump will host a Nevada campaign rally indoors Sunday night, despite objections from the local government and concerns about the potential spread of COVID-19.
It will be Trump’s first indoor rally since a June 20 event in Tulsa, Okla., that preceded a spike in coronavirus cases in that city.
The event, which begins at 10 pm EST., at a manufacturing business in Henderson, Nevada, near Las Vegas, will likely violate state restrictions on large gatherings in the midst of the COVID pandemic.
Henderson officials have issued a compliance letter and verbal warning to the event organizers. Kathleen Richards, a spokeswoman for the city of Henderson, told CNN that “gatherings of more than 50 people in a private or public setting is prohibited.”
Aides to Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden criticized the rally as a threat to public health.
Holding a mass event indoors reflects “the same toxic attitude that has crippled Trump’s incoherent pandemic response, cost over 193,000 Americans their lives, killed millions of jobs, and needlessly torn the nation apart when we need to come together in this moment of crisis,” tweeted Biden spokesman Andrew Bates.
In a statement, the Trump campaign said that everyone attending the event will receive a temperature check, be provided a mask (and encouraged to wear it), and have access to hand sanitizers.
“If you can join tens of thousands of people protesting in the streets, gamble in a casino, or burn down small businesses in riots, you can gather peacefully under the 1st Amendment to hear from the President of the United States,” said campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh.
The rally will cap a day that continued a western campaign swing by raising money, attacking Democrats, and soliciting Latino voters in Nevada.
“I have achieved more for Hispanic Americans in 47 months than Joe Biden in 47 years,” Trump said while criticizing his Democratic challenger during Latino “roundtable” meeting at a Vegas hotel.
Speaking to a group of supporters, Trump said, “Hispanics embody the American Dream.”
Trump, who hosted a pair of fundraisers in the Las Vegas area Sunday expected to draw about $18 million, planned to end his day with a rally in the Vegas suburb of Henderson, Nevada.
In remarks at the roundtable, Trump stressed the impact of policies on Latino residents, a key constituency in battleground states, which include Arizona, Florida and Nevada.
Arizona is on Trump’s itinerary Monday as he hosts a similar roundtable in Phoenix. Trump is also scheduled to visit California to review the damage from the deadly wildfires.
Biden, running mate Kamala Harris, and their aides have said that Trump’s actions to curb immigration are aimed at people of color, particularly Latinos. The president has said that Mexico and other countries are only interested in sending “rapists” and criminals across the U.S. border.
That said, Democrats said the votes of many Latinos in key states are up for grabs ahead of the Nov. 3 election.
“We know that we have work to do,” said senior adviser Symone Sanders, speaking on ABC’s This Week. “We have said from the beginning – and Vice President Biden has been very clear about this as has Sen. Harris – that we are really working to earn every single vote in this country, and we want to earn the votes of the Latino Hispanic community.”
Nationwide polls give Biden an overall edge over Trump little more than seven weeks ahead of Election Day.
During his meeting with Latino supporters, Trump again made unfounded accusations regarding Democrats and their push to expand mail-in voting, claiming that “the only way they’re going to win is with rigged ballots.”
Trump’s campaign has sued Nevada over a new mail-in voting system. Republicans are asking a federal judge to prevent mail-in ballots from going to all active Nevada voters.
Democrats said Republicans also use mail-in voting, and that Trump is lying about the system in order to lay the groundwork for a protest of the election he is likely to lose.
Nevada is one of the states Trump is hoping to flip back to the Republicans. Four years ago, Democrat Hillary Clinton narrowly defeated him in Nevada by a margin of 47.9%-45.5%, a little less than 2.5 percentage points.
A recent New York Times/Siena College gave Biden a narrow lead over Trump in Nevada, 46%-42%.
During his day in Nevada, Trump said he signed a new executive order that he claimed will lead to lower drug prices, though those are subject to market forces.
The guests at the roundtable were very supportive of Trump. “Everything you’re doing is perfect,” one guest said, while another told the president she would “take a bullet for you.”
Trump again touted his COVID-19 response – “we are rounding the corner” – even though coronavirus cases in the U.S. are still rising and the number of deaths is approaching 200,000.
COVID has affected Trump’s schedule in Nevada. On Saturday, he held a rally in the small town of Minden because a bigger event in Reno had to be canceled because of state crowd restrictions.
In his remarks, Trump again attacked the violence in “Democrat-run cities,” including the Saturday shootings of two Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies.
“We are going to get much faster with our courts and we have to get much tougher with our sentencing,” Trump said.
Biden also condemned the shootings of the deputies.
“This cold-blooded shooting is unconscionable and the perpetrator must be brought to justice,” the Democratic nominee tweeted. “Violence of any kind is wrong; those who commit it should be caught and punished.”