President Trump traveled to Michigan Thursday evening for a campaign rally, where he again made a call for the return of Big Ten football and pushed for Michigan universities to reopen after making the same appeal earlier at a White House news conference.
“Let’s open it up, let’s play football,” Mr. Trump told the crowd gathered at an airport hangar in Freeland.
Earlier in the day, Mr. Trump discussed one of his favorite topics — the future of Big Ten football.
“We want to see Big Ten football,” he said. “But people are working very, very hard to get Big Ten football back and I’m pushing it, and it will be a great thing for our country and players.”
Mr. Trump said that universities should reopen because “it’s much safer for students to live on campus” than to have them at home “spreading the virus to high risk Americans.”
“I know the governor will have a lot to say about it, we hope she approves it,” he said.
His remarks came a week after the Biden campaign enlisted two football players in Michigan to make the case that the federal government’s poor coronavirus response had left swaths of the Midwest without their favorite football teams.
“The leadership in Michigan took it seriously from Day 1, locking things down and saving a lot of lives,” Calvin Johnson, the former Detroit Lions wide receiver, said in a call arranged by the campaign. “What if we had done the same with the federal response? What if we had a leader that led by example, who wears his mask and preaches social distancing?”
Mr. Trump also defended his interviews with the veteran journalist Bob Woodward. “I didn’t lie,” he said when asked to explain why he had privately described the virus as “deadly stuff” and admitted it was more deadly than “even your strenuous flu” while telling the public the opposite.
Mr. Trump bristled at a White House news conference when Jonathan Karl of ABC News asked him: “Why did you lie to the American people and why should we trust what you have to say now?”
“Such a terrible question, and the phraseology,” Mr. Trump said. “I didn’t lie. What I said is we have to be calm, we can’t be panicked.”
Later, at the rally, Mr. Trump defended himself in the wake of his own comments to Mr. Woodward by comparing his performance in explaining the coronavirus threat to the public to that of Winston Churchill during the bombing of London in World War II.
“As the British government advised the British people in the face of World War II, ‘keep calm and carry on,’ that’s what I did,” Mr. Trump said. In fact, Mr. Churchill was known for being direct with the public about the possibilities ahead.
Mr. Trump also falsely claimed credit for saving the auto industry and adding car factories to Michigan, and demagogued refugees as something Michigan residents should fear.
“He has promised to flood your state with refugees, and you know that as well as I do, and you see it all the time from terrorist hot spots around the world including Syria, Somalia and Yemen,” Mr. Trump said. At another point, he said that suburban voters needed to fear “a resident from Antifa” joining their neighborhood, should Mr. Biden win.
Joseph R. Biden Jr. will travel to New York on Friday to mark the anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, his campaign announced on Thursday.
He and his wife, Jill Biden, will attend the National September 11 Memorial & Museum’s 19th anniversary commemoration ceremony, his campaign said. Vice President Mike Pence and his wife, Karen, are also scheduled to attend the ceremony.
“Family members of 9/11 victims will gather on the Memorial plaza while adhering to state and federal guidelines regarding social distancing and public gatherings,” according to a statement posted on the memorial’s website.
From there the Bidens will travel to Shanksville, Pa., where a campaign statement said that they will “pay their respects to the victims of Flight 93,” the plane that was hijacked and that crashed into a field after passengers fought back.
President Trump will also travel to Shanksville. He is expected to attend a memorial service that begins in the morning.
A day after President Trump argued at a White House news conference that he had played down the lethality of the coronavirus in public because he did not want to “scare everybody,” the president struck a decidedly less reassuring…