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Trump rally moved back to Rochester amid conflicting reports on crowd size allowance

KSTP
Updated: October 29, 2020 10:14 PM
Created: October 29, 2020 04:02 PM

President Donald Trump's campaign rally, which was originally planned for Rochester International Airport before being moved to a business in Dodge Center, will again be held at the Rochester airport on Friday afternoon.

According to sources, the plan originally was for the rally to be at the airport, however, it was recently moved to the property of two businesses in Dodge Center.

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The property owner alleges that the Secret Service told him the state will no longer allow the event at that location due to potential crowd size issues.

— Tom Hauser (@thauserkstp) October 29, 2020

UPDATE: President Trump to campaign in Rochester on Friday

However, Gov. Tim Walz's spokesman said neither the governor nor the Minnesota Department of Health had any role in the movement of the event.

The event will be restricted to 250 or fewer people as opposed to the thousands that were expected at the Dodge Center event.

The Trump campaign rebranded Friday's event as a "Make America Great Again peaceful protest" and claimed Walz and Ellison were "stifling" free speech.

"Without question, Minnesota Democrats had hoped that the President would simply cancel the event, but he will not allow partisan politicians to deprive people of their First Amendment rights to gather peacefully to hear directly from the President of the United States," the Trump campaign said in a statement.

A spokesperson for Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison also told KSTP no threats were made. "These are decisions they are making," spokesperson John Stiles said. "We never threaten anyone," he added.

Stiles said Ellison's office asked the business owners for their COVID Preparedness Plan, which is required by the state, but they never heard back. He added that the office doesn't have the authority to cancel events.

Stiles cited the rise in COVID-19 cases in the state as the reason for why Ellison's office inquired about the business' COVID Preparedness Plan for this particular rally.

Ellison issued the following statement Thursday night:

"It's everyone's responsibility to stop the spread of COVID-19. My office, along with the Department of Health and the Department of Labor and Industry, has worked evenhandedly with 80 events of all kinds in every corner of Minnesota to educate them about their responsibility to hold safe events and help them comply with Executive Order 20-74 and state laws designed to keep people safe from the spread of COVID-19.  

"Overwhelmingly we have found Minnesotans willing to comply to keep people safe.  
Yesterday my office, along with MDH and MDLI, participated in a call with officials from the City of Rochester, Olmsted County, and the Rochester airport, and a representative of the RNC. We and our State partners educated them on their responsibilities for holding a safe, compliant event. After the call, we asked the RNC in writing for a COVID preparedness plan. We did not receive a response. This morning, upon hearing the event was moving to Dodge Center, we asked the Trump campaign and McNeilus Steel for a COVID preparedness plan. We did not receive a response. Now we have learned the event has moved again. We did not cancel this event: indeed, we have no authority to cancel events and have never cancelled an event.  

"Nearly 9 million Americans, including more than 140,000 Minnesotans, have contracted COVID-19. More than 228,000 Americans, including more than 2,400 Minnesotans, have died from it.Yesterday Minnesota set a single-day record of 2,900 new infections and a near record with 32 deaths. COVID-19 is not a political statement, it is a deadly virus and the cause of a global pandemic. It does not exempt people based on their political views. For this reason, Governor Walz and I jointly encouraged all campaigns and all Minnesotans to express their political views safely during the election season. As Attorney General charged with enforcing our executive orders, I take very seriously my responsibility to stop it from spreading and cannot not exempt anyone, regardless of their political views, from complying with requirements to keep all Minnesotans safe from it."


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