WASHINGTON — Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak, a Democrat, criticized President Donald Trump for violating the state's rules on Sunday night by holding an indoor campaign rally attended by thousands of people.
Trump "is knowingly packing thousands into an indoor venue to hold a political rally" the governor wrote in a lengthy Twitter post. He added that Trump has "forgotten that this country is still in the middle of a global pandemic."
Trump responded to Sisolak, saying that the governor's office had nixed outdoor sites that his campaign proposed.
"This is an insult to every Nevadan who has followed the directives, made sacrifices, and put their neighbors before themselves," Sisolak said. "It's also a direct threat to all of the recent progress we've made and could potentially set us back."
"As usual, he doesn't believe the rules apply to him," Sisolak said of Trump, and accused the president of "reckless and selfish actions."
Trump held his first indoor rally in months in Henderson, Nevada, on Sunday night. Aides said that every attendee would have their temperature checked before entering and would be provided with a mask that they were encouraged to wear. They also had access to hand sanitizer. However, like the president's recent rallies, most supporters were not wearing face coverings.
Henderson authorities said in a statement late Sunday that officials warned the event organizer in writing and verbally that they must obey the governor's directives, which include not gathering in groups larger than 50 people, wearing face coverings and social distancing.
Trump responded to Sisolak's attack in an interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal Sunday night, claiming that he wasn't subject to the state's rules, and accused the governor of forcing his campaign to cancel a plan to hold an outdoor rally Sunday.
"They canceled six different sites because the governor wouldn’t let it happen, all external sites,” Trump said.
He added that he doesn't fear contracting COVID-19 when he hosts a rally because when he's on stage he's "very far away" from the audience and is therefore "not at all concerned.”
In response to criticism the campaign received for holding the indoor rally, Tim Murtaugh, the Trump campaign 2020 communications director, said in a statement, "If you can join tens of thousands of people protesting in the streets, gamble in a casino, or burn down small businesses in riots, you can gather peacefully under the 1st Amendment to hear from the president of the United States."
The president had also held a rally on Saturday on the tarmac of Nevada’s Minden-Tahoe Airport where most people were not wearing masks or practicing social distancing.
Reacting to the rally Sunday night, Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., tweeted that the president is "deliberately killing people."
Rep. Don Beyer, D-Va., tweeted Monday, "Trump is using his position of power to spread COVID-19. People died after his last indoor rally."
Ari Fleischer, White House press secretary to President George W. Bush, tweeted Monday, "Indoor rallies are irresponsible. Covid-19 is real and this was a bad idea."
The anti-Trump group of Republicans called The Lincoln Project tweeted, "Thinking about how Donald Trump knew that coronavirus was airborne and deadly, and *still* chose to have an indoor rally."