Trump makes a risky reelection bet by backing stay-at-home protesters

Although only 400 to 700 people joined the protest – some of them armed – in a critical swing state of nearly 10 million people, Trump once again gambled that the smart political game was to support the fiery few rather than worry about how he can alienate the many mid-state voters in Great Lakes State that remains concerned about coronavirus & # 39; destruction of their condition.

It was the classic play of the base that Trump has mastered, stirring the reality of his most loyal supporters and stirring up the controversy he enjoys – even if it meant ignoring his own administration's recommendations on social distancing to support a demonstration that few had they wore masks and even fewer were recommended six feet apart. Lately, his gamblers have had few political consequences – most memorable when he described a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville as having "very nice people on both sides."

But these are very different, bleak times, and Trump seems to think he doesn't have to adjust his political strategy, even if he faces a difficult reelection campaign against former vice president. Joe Biden, which runs as a uniter rather than a dividing line.
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A pandemic sweeps the globe and kills more Americans in just nine weeks than was killed during the Vietnam War. Many people are scared, desperate for even management and mourn the losses of neighbors, loved ones, and medical professionals who became ill while nursing coronavirus patients. As the death toll continues to climb, it's hard to imagine that voters will have as much patience this fall for the trifling quarrels Trump calls for – though his resilience surprised us before.

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What Trump often seems to forget is that he won the White House in 2016 by a narrow margin in swing states like Michigan, flipped over moderate suburban areas that had voted for Barack Obama in 2012. Trump beat Hillary Clinton in Michigan 47.6% to 47.4%.

We still do not know if 2020 will be a choice determined by swinging voters or a competition primarily driven by voter turnout on both sides, and Trump's base has been involuntarily loyal throughout his political life. But for now, there is no doubt that Trump's path to re-election will run through places like the Michigan suburbs. So far, he has done very little to strengthen the appearance of important groups such as suburban women, among them the approval ratings have fallen steadily since he was elected in 2016, not least because they dislike his garbage chatter on Twitter.

Especially in Michigan, there are warning signs for Trump.

Democrats fared better than expected in some of Michigan's suburbs and suburbs in mid-2018. For example, Democrat Haley Stevens won in Michigan's 11th Congressional District in Detroit's western suburbs, defeating former Trump state governor Lena Epstein in a district where the president edged Clinton in 2016, 49% to 45%. In another big race in Michigan's 8th District, which includes the Lansing and Detroit suburbs, Elissa Slotkin sent former GOP Representative Mike Bishop in a district that Trump had won by 7 points in 2016.

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Still, when Trump sees a grievance political crowd going up against a Democratic governor like Whitmer – who has not only proven to be a headline opponent, but has the added value of being a potential vice presidential candidate for Biden – he can't resist the role of flame thrower, even in the most sober times.

"The Governor of Michigan should give some and extinguish the fire," Trump tweeted Friday morning. "These are very good people, but they are angry. They want their lives back, safe! See them, talk to them, make an appointment."

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He also supported protests last month, tweeting "LIBERATE MICHIGAN!" while sending the same message to other democratically-driven states. One of those states was Minnesota, a state Trump lost in 2016 that he aims to reverse in his election campaign.
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Asked about Trump's support for the Michigan protesters, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Friday that he referred to his support for the "First Amendment right to protest."

"He encourages everyone to protest legally and also participate in our social distancing guidelines, which we believe all Americans should engage in," McEnany said.

During a press conference Friday morning, Whitmer said Thursday "the capital's scene was disturbing."

"Swastika's and Confederate flags, rods and automatic rifles do not represent who we are as Michiganders," the first-time governor said. "This state has a rich history of people coming together in times of crisis. Brave soldiers fought to keep the union intact during the civil war. We came together as the arsenal democracy to defeat the Nazis because we were united against a common enemy. Now we must channel the same the energy against our common enemy, which is Covid-19. "

Whitmer has repeatedly defended his stay-at-home order, which is among the most restrictive in the country, noting that Michigan has the third highest number Covid-19 deaths in the country although it is the 10th most populous state.

"I know some people are angry, and I know many feel restless. I know people are itching to get back to work," she said. "I get it, and I respect it. And it's okay to feel that way. … Unfortunately, the only way we can get through this and take the next step forward is if we all continue to do our part. "

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She is being challenged by the state's GOP-led state legislature whose members have threatened to sue her for what they see as an abuse of power – and that was the group the protesters said they were in the capital to support Thursday. Thursday evening, she expanded the state's emergency declaration, which expires late Thursday night, through May 28.
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"We remain in exceptional condition. It's a fact. For anyone to declare & # 39; Missions completed & # 39; means they are blind to the fact that over 600 people have died in the last 72 hours," Whitmer said during the of a town hall Thursday night. "I'm not going to make decisions about our public health based on political games."

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However, Trump has not lost the desire for political games.

Over the course of many briefings, he has mainly sought praise for his administration's inadequate response to the coronavirus crisis, buzzed out by press coverage and at times sounded completely deaf to the deep grief and grief Americans face.

During an event on Thursday, he said the United States "deaths – our numbers – per million people are really, really strong. We are very proud of the work we have done."

So far, the American people have not shared the view of the job he has done. In a recent poll from the Pew Research Center, 65% of Americans said Trump was "too slow to take big steps", and a majority said he was just doing a fair or bad job of providing accurate information about the coronavirus.

As CNN's Harry Enten noted in a recent analysis, however, home-based orders have been popular, with 81% of Americans supporting them in a survey at Quinnipiac University last month. A poll by the Pew Research Center showed that 66% of Americans were more concerned that restrictions on public activity would be lifted too quickly compared to 32% who said they were concerned that the orders would not be lifted quickly enough.

Given this data, Trump may be best served by choosing his battles more carefully.

CNN's Rebekah Riess contributed to this story.

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