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FREELAND, Mich. — Reeling from another crisis of his own making, President Donald Trump tried to refocus attention on his Democratic rival at a rally in battleground Michigan Thursday as he pushed to move past revelations that he purposefully played down the danger of the coronavirus last winter. But the virus controversy followed him as he faced new pushback from local officials worried about the growing size of his rallies and his campaign’s repeated flouting of public health guidelines intended to halt the COVID-19 spread. That includes Michigan’s Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who raised alarms about Thursday’s event, warning it would make recovery harder.
Trump, however, reveled in the crowd of several thousand, packed shoulder-to-shoulder in a cavernous airport hangar, mostly without masks — with Air Force One on display as his backdrop. “This is not the crowd of a person who comes in second place,” Trump declared to cheers as he railed against Whitmer for current state restrictions. “Tell your governor to open up your state!” he demanded, saying Michigan would be better if it “had a governor who knew what the hell she was doing.” Before departing the White House, Trump denied he had lied to the …
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