In Michigan Visit, Trump Forgoes Criticism and Talks About the Economy and the Flood


WASHINGTON — A day after threatening to withhold federal funding from Michigan, President Trump visited a Ford plant in Ypsilanti and held his fire, delivering a re-election pitch for himself in a battleground state where his campaign advisers have become increasingly concerned that his support is declining.

After falsely claiming the state was engaged in voter fraud and had acted illegally by sending out absentee ballot applications to millions of voters, Mr. Trump dropped his criticism of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, and other state officials.

The president toured the factory, where the auto manufacturer has been producing ventilators and personal protective equipment, and then delivered remarks in front of red, white and blue Ford trucks. He told reporters he was “not going to discuss” what funds he was referring to.

Instead, Mr. Trump talked about the reopening of the country, promising an economic surge built on “pent-up demand.” He said he wanted to start holding campaign rallies again “sooner rather than later,” despite the thousands of new Covid-19 cases still being identified each day in the United States and the grim milestone of 100,000 deaths expected in the coming days.

“I think we’re going to do better the second time, and it’s important that we win the second time,” Mr. Trump said at what was ostensibly an official presidential event. “It’s important that we win the second time.”

In fact, some national polls show Mr. Trump trailing former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., the presumptive Democratic nominee, in Michigan by up to six points. And in a recent poll commissioned by the Detroit Regional Chamber, 63 percent of Michigan voters approved of Ms. Whitmer’s handling of the coronavirus crisis, compared with just 43 percent who approved of the job Mr. Trump is doing.

The split was on display outside the factory, where several hundred supporters and protesters gathered before the president’s visit.

Denise O’Connell, 59, a retired hospital IT worker, said she came to express her distrust of Ms. Whitmer as much as her support for the president. “We’ve got a tyrannical wench running our state,” she said. “It hurts me that so many people just think Trump is a bad guy. I think he was elected to lead at this particular time.”

But another driver painted on his windows: “Whitmer = My Governor. Trump = Not My President.”

Mr. Trump acknowledged the flood in Central Michigan that displaced thousands of residents after a dam failed. “The Army Corps of Engineers at the highest level is right now in Michigan working on the fact that you had some dams breaking that should not have broke on,” he said. “They were probably — maybe not maintained properly.”

He said he had spoken to Ms. Whitmer about the crisis earlier in the day. “At the appropriate time, I will go and see the area,” he said.

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Inside the plant, Mr. Trump said that if he had not withdrawn from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, the state’s critical auto industry would have been “destroyed.” And in a stump speech that felt as if it were pulled from a pre-coronavirus filing cabinet, the president highlighted the United States-Mexico-Canada trade agreement as one of his biggest achievements and bragged about “200 beautiful new miles of border wall.”

“I don’t know how these unions aren’t endorsing Trump instead of the standard Democrat,” he said, referring to Mr. Biden. “A Democrat that doesn’t even know where he is.”

Mr. Trump also said that he was planning to release new guidelines about reopening churches and that the time for quarantine was coming to an end. “Our country was not meant to be shut down,” he said. “A never-ending lockdown would invite a public health calamity.”

“Americans who need and want to return to work should not be vilified,” he added. “They should be supported. Unlike many politicians and journalists, for those who earn a living with their own two hands, working remotely is not just an option.”

The Coronavirus Outbreak

  • Frequently Asked Questions and Advice

    Updated May 20, 2020

    • How many people have lost their jobs due to coronavirus in the U.S.?

      Over 38 million people have filed for unemployment since March. One in five who were working in February reported losing a job or being furloughed in March or the beginning of April, data from a Federal Reserve survey released on May 14 showed, and that pain was highly concentrated among low earners. Fully 39 percent of former workers living in a household earning $40,000 or less lost work, compared with 13 percent in those making more than $100,000, a Fed official said.

    • What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

      Common symptoms include fever, a dry cough, fatigue and difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. Some of these symptoms overlap with those of the flu, making detection difficult, but runny noses and stuffy sinuses are less common. The C.D.C. has also added chills, muscle pain, sore throat, headache and a new loss of the sense of taste or smell as symptoms to look out for. Most people fall ill five to seven days after exposure, but symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as many as 14 days.

    • How can I protect myself while flying?

      If air travel is unavoidable, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself. Most important: Wash your hands often, and stop touching your face. If possible, choose a window seat. A study from Emory University found that during flu season, the safest place to sit on a plane is by a window, as people sitting in window seats had less contact with potentially sick people. Disinfect hard surfaces. When you get to your seat and your hands are clean, use disinfecting wipes to clean the hard surfaces at your seat like the head and arm rest, the seatbelt buckle, the remote, screen, seat back pocket and the tray table. If the seat is hard and nonporous or leather or pleather, you can wipe that down, too. (Using wipes on upholstered seats could lead to a wet seat and spreading of germs rather than killing them.)

    • Is ‘Covid toe’ a symptom of the disease?

      There is an uptick in people reporting symptoms of chilblains, which are painful red or purple lesions that typically appear in the winter on fingers or toes. The lesions are emerging as yet another symptom of infection with the new coronavirus. Chilblains are caused by inflammation in small blood vessels in reaction to cold or damp conditions, but they are usually common in the coldest winter months. Federal health officials do not include toe lesions in the list of coronavirus symptoms, but some dermatologists are pushing for a change, saying so-called Covid toe should be sufficient grounds for testing.

    • Can I go to the park?

      Yes, but make sure you keep six feet of distance between you and people who don’t live in your home. Even if you just hang out in a park, rather than go for a jog or a walk, getting some fresh air, and hopefully sunshine, is a good idea.

    • How do I take my temperature?

      Taking one’s temperature to look for signs of fever is not as easy as it sounds, as “normal” temperature numbers can vary, but generally, keep an eye out for a temperature of 100.5 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. If you don’t have a thermometer (they can be pricey these days), there are other ways to figure out if you have a fever, or are at risk of Covid-19 complications.

    • Should I wear a mask?

      The C.D.C. has recommended that all Americans wear cloth masks if they go out in public. This is a shift in federal guidance reflecting new concerns that the coronavirus is being spread by infected people who have no symptoms. Until now, the C.D.C., like the W.H.O., has advised that ordinary people don’t need to wear masks unless they are sick and coughing. Part of the reason was to preserve medical-grade masks for health care workers who desperately need them at a time when they are in continuously short supply. Masks don’t replace hand washing and social distancing.

    • What should I do if I feel sick?

      If you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus or think you have, and have a fever or symptoms like a cough or difficulty breathing, call a doctor. They should give you advice on whether you should be tested, how to get tested, and how to seek medical treatment without potentially infecting or exposing others.

    • How do I get tested?

      If you’re sick and you think you’ve been exposed to the new coronavirus, the C.D.C. recommends that you call your healthcare provider and explain your symptoms and fears. They will decide if you need to be tested. Keep in mind that there’s a chance — because of a lack of testing kits or because you’re asymptomatic, for instance — you won’t be able to get tested.

    • How can I help?

      Charity Navigator, which evaluates charities using a numbers-based system, has a running list of nonprofits working in communities affected by the outbreak. You can give blood through the American Red Cross, and World Central Kitchen has stepped in to distribute meals in major cities.