President Donald Trump is demanding state officials “liberate” Minnesota, Michigan, and Virginia amid the coronavirus pandemic, after saying hours earlier it would be up to governors to reopen their states.
The president issued his demands on Twitter on Friday in short tweets as protesters were “massing,” as a local television station put it, in front of the official residence of Minnesota Governor Tim Walz, a Democrat. Earlier this week, conservative protesters, many wearing pro-Trump gear, stormed the State Capitol in Lansing, Michigan, to demand leaders there open that state from a “stay-at-home” order.
“I think they’d listen to me. They seem to be protesters that like me and respect this opinion, and my opinion is the same as just about all of the governors,” Mr Trump said Thursday night when asked about the open-up protests.
“They all want to open. Nobody wants to stay shut, but they want to open safely. So do I. But we have large sections of the country right now that can start thinking about opening,” he added. “So that will be a governor’s choice, and we’ll have no problem with it.”
But he changed his tune by the next morning, as he often has since becoming president.
“LIBERATE MINNESOTA,” he first wrote without providing context to why he wanted the state to reopen. A minute later came a tweet calling for the liberation of Michigan.
Both are considered swing states in November’s presidential election. Mr Trump won Michigan narrowly in 2016 and barely lost Minnesota to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
The Mid-Atlantic commonwealth is put into the 2020 Democratic column by most political professionals, but some give Mr Trump an outside shot at besting former Vice President Joe Biden there.
“LIBERATE VIRGINIA, and save your great 2nd Amendment. It is under siege,” the president wrote a few minutes later.
These tweets come just one day after the Trump administration unveiled its three-phase plan to help guide states on reopening during the pandemic.
At the time, Mr Trump said he would leave the decision up to the states while adding he thought 29 states were close to entering the first phase of reopening. But it now appears the president was willing to publicly put pressure on the states he thought should immediately open.
The three states were not the only ones to receive targetted tweets on Friday. Mr Trump also went on the attack against New York Governor Andrew Cuomo over federal response.