Trump Tweets “LIBERATE MICHIGAN!,” appears to back protesters

This morning , President Trump tweeted

LIBERATE MINNESOTA!

LIBERATE MICHIGAN!

LIBERATE VIRGINIA, and save your great 2nd Amendment. It is under siege!

Trump also wrote “Today people started losing their jobs because of Crazy Nancy Pelosi, Cryin’ Chuck Schumer, and the Radical Left, Do Nothing Democrats, who should immediately come back to Washington and approve legislation to help families in America. End your ENDLESS VACATION!”

TheHill reports all three states are broadly seen as swing contests in the 2020 presidential election. Trump won Michigan in 2016 in an upset and has hopes of taking Minnesota, though it has been decades since that state voted for a Republican as president. Trump will also be an underdog in the presidential race in Virginia.

The tweets come amid a growing trend of protesters gathering at state capitols to express displeasure with governors who have imposed stringent measures to close nonessential businesses and urge residents to remain in their homes amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Thousands of people gathered in Michigan on Thursday to protest Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s (D) extension of a stay-at-home order, with many donning Trump apparel or waving flags with the president’s name. Whitmer has been mentioned as a possible vice presidential candidate for Democrats.

A smaller protest took place in Richmond to oppose Gov. Ralph Northam’s (D) order, which is in place until early June.

A group calling itself “Liberate Minnesota” was set to protest outside Gov. Tim Walz’s residence on Friday, according to local reports.

More protests are expected in the coming days in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Idaho and elsewhere. State officials and public health experts warn that the large gatherings could inadvertently lead to further spread of the coronavirus, extending the need to impose stay-at-home orders and other measures.

Trump on Thursday touted new guidelines from the White House that remain conservative in terms of loosening social distance guidelines. There are fears that relaxing the orders too quickly could cause a surge in infections, though the practices have also contributed to a crumbling economy.

But Trump’s rhetoric has been much more mixed on the issue, and he frequently talks about his aspirations for states to open up their economies by relaxing the guidelines more quickly.

On Thursday, when asked about the protests, Trump said he agreed with most governors.

“I think they listen to me,” Trump said Thursday when asked about the protests. “They seem to be protesters that like me and respect this opinion. And my opinion is the same as just about all of the governors.”

The guidelines offered by Trump include a three-phase process that could take several weeks or even months. The guidelines make clear that it is up to governors to decide when to loosen restrictions.