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President Trump brings law enforcement message to Janesville

President Trump: “If we win Wisconsin, we win the whole ballgame”
Published: Oct. 17, 2020 at 10:46 PM CDT
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JANESVILLE, Wis. (WMTV) - With the election just 17 days away, President Donald Trump is on the campaign trail, coming to Janesville as part of a one-day, two-city tour through the upper Midwest.

His trip comes approximately two weeks after his first trip to the southern Wisconsin city was canceled because the president tested positive for coronavirus. But, even with that one nixed trip, Saturday’s visit was at least his third stop in the Badger State since this summer.

While President Trump covered many topics throughout his speech, his law and order message was meant to take center stage. Over the tightly packed crowd, many of whom were not wearing masks, a large Blue Lives Matter flags flapped fiercely on the windy night.

Early on President Trump commented on the stiff winds that whipped through the region for most of Saturday, explaining that it was the reason he was wearing a hat that night.

President Trump also used the opportunity to urge voters to head out and vote, telling people there, “this is the most important election in the history of the country” and “if we win Wisconsin, we win the whole ball game.”

He even recommended they request an absentee ballot if need be – a recommendation that clashed with his stance questioning voting by mail. The president has even cited the situation in Outagamie Co. where the absentee ballots were found along with other mail in a ditch beside a highway. Wisconsin Republicans have also challenged both the rulings allowing more time to count absentee ballots and the City of Madison’s Democracy in the Park initiative to collect absentee ballots.

President Donald Trump arrives to speak during a campaign rally at Southern Wisconsin Regional Airport, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020, in Janesville, Wis. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
President Donald Trump arrives to speak during a campaign rally at Southern Wisconsin Regional Airport, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020, in Janesville, Wis. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)(Alex Brandon | AP)

LAW & ORDER

“We will never defund the police. We will strongly defend our police, and I will always stand with the heroes of law enforcement,” he said.

A major part of the president’s speech focused on his support of law enforcement. President Trump reiterated his condemnations of those who call for reducing police budgets.

“If you support our police, if you stand with the heroes of law enforcement, then you must defeat the Democrats on November 3,” President Trump continued.

Supporters told NBC15 they are encouraged by the message. Fifteen-year-old Ariana McGarry stated that was one of the main reasons she came to the event, “I want to see how he’s going to honor our law enforcement and make sure that they really get the respect they deserve.”

While the president contends Democratic challenger Joe Biden’s plan includes defunding the police, the former vice president has explicitly and repeatedly said that is not the case and he does not support such actions.

Biden has expressed his support for peaceful protests but condemned the violent unrest that surrounded some of them. In those cases, Biden has said he supported law enforcement’s effort to stop it.

Supporters for President Donald Trump cheer during a campaign rally Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020, in Janesville, Wis. (AP Photo/Andy Manis)
Supporters for President Donald Trump cheer during a campaign rally Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020, in Janesville, Wis. (AP Photo/Andy Manis)(Andy Manis | AP)

MASKS & SOCIAL DISTANCING

Supporters told NBC15 News for them to get into the event they had to wear masks. Rally organizers noted they too enforced the mask rule as those supporters boarded the shuttle buses that would take them the two miles from the parking area to Southern Wisconsin Regional Airport.

However, despite sitting or standing shoulder-to-shoulder with other Trump supporters, not all of them chose to keep them on throughout the event.

“Where is my mask?” Jared Froelich, of Pardeeville, asked rhetorically, “My mask is in my pocket.” Froelich went on to say that he was very comfortable there, adding they were all negative and pointing out the event was held outdoors.

Another supporter backed the president, saying he cares about everyone in all aspects, including the coronavirus.

Talking about his own diagnosis for COVID-19, President Trump told the crowd he wasn’t “feel(ing) like Superman.”

CORONAVIRUS

Early in his speech, President Trump mused the state should have a Republican governor. He said a governor from his party would open up the state, adding that Wisconsin children needed to go back to school

The president pointed to other states, like Arizona, as having declining rates of infection and are beginning to ease regulations imposed because of COVID-19.

"OPEN IT UP" President Donald Trump tells supporters in Janesville that "you gotta open your state up" and kids should go back to school. Do you agree?

Posted by NBC15 Madison on Saturday, October 17, 2020

Meanwhile, Wisconsin broke the record for new positive virus cases on Friday — the third time that’s happened in a week. The state also hit record highs for daily deaths and hospitalizations this past week.

In Rock Co., where the president was speaking, the infection rate as more than tripled in the past month. For the seven days leading up to Friday, October 17, the county reported an average of more than 100 cases per day. That’s compared to approximately 30 per day for the same period last month.

A Rock Co. Public Health spokesperson said the department is so busy handling the influx of new cases, that they haven’t had time to report all of the negative cases to the state. They hope that issue will be resolved by an upgraded reporting system the Dept of Health Services is installing this weekend. It is also among the counties that so inundated with new cases they are asking the state for help with contact tracing.

President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at Muskegon County Airport, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020, in Norton Shores, Mich. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at Muskegon County Airport, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020, in Norton Shores, Mich. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)(Alex Brandon | AP)

IN MICHIGAN

President Trump’s first stop of the day was in Michigan, where he told supporters that Biden’s election would spur “the single biggest depression in the history of our country” and “turn Michigan into a refugee camp.”

Addressing the coronavirus crisis, Trump warned that Biden would “shut down the country, delay the vaccine and prolong the pandemic.” Public health experts say the nation would be in far better shape had Trump’s administration taken more aggressive action early on.

And while he repeatedly predicted victory, Trump seemed to grapple throughout the day with the prospect that he could indeed lose in November.

In Michigan, he quipped that, in January, he "better damn well be president. In Wisconsin, he wondered how he would process a loss.

“Can you imagine if I lose? I will have lost to the worst candidate in the history of American politics,” he said. “What do I do?”

The Associated Press' Brian Slodysko and Jill Colvin contributed to this article.

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