“I think it’s going to be a long time before anyone thinks it’s safe to have big gatherings,” Whitmer said in an interview. “It’s important that we’re all very mindful, and that goes for campaign rallies on both sides of the aisle.”
Other officials from 2020 battleground states said they would hesitate to permit events that do not comply with the federal government’s guidelines. Trump is almost always accompanied by an entourage of advisers and U.S. Secret Service personnel during official and political trips, making it difficult to practice social distancing guidelines in line with the administration’s current recommendations.
During his trip last month to the Naval Station in Norfolk, Va., he spoke to an empty parking lot and traveled with a limited group of aides and reporters on Air Force One. Still, the combined presence of security, staff and media on the ground exceeded the size limits his administration placed on group gatherings in mid-March.
“If there was a situation where the president was trying to violate his own guidelines, we would certainly have a conversation about that,” said an aide to Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers.
A Trump campaign official said the president’s 2020 operation will remain in the digital sphere for the time being and does not currently have any “Keep America Great” rallies — a hallmark of Trump’s reelection strategy — or physical fundraisers planned for the remainder of April or May. But the same official said the White House is in charge of the president’s schedule and could add events at any given moment.
On Friday, Trump abruptly announced his plans to deliver this year’s commencement address at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. His June 13 appearance will occur on the academy’s campus 50 miles north of New York City, which has seen more than 10,000 coronavirus-related deaths since March 1. The White House declined a request for additional details about the president’s schedule.
“I understand they’ll have distancing. They’ll have some big distance, and so it’ll be very different than it ever looked,” Trump said at a White House briefing.
Pence delivered a commencement address at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs on Saturday. Nearly 1,000 cadets sat eight feet apart on the school’s parade field during the event, offering an eerie glimpse into what Trump’s own appearance at West Point could look like if strict social distancing measures remain in place through mid-June.