DeWine defends greeting President Trump at airport before outdoor rally

Coronavirus

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — As Gov. Mike DeWine discourages Ohioans from gathering in large groups to celebrate Halloween or watch Ohio State football games, he rebuffed any suggestion that he made an exception for President Donald Trump.

On Saturday, DeWine greeted Trump at Rickenbacker International Airport after Trump landed on Air Force One and before he proceeded by caravan to Circleville, where he had a rally at the Pickaway County Fairgrounds that afternoon.

DeWine spoke to Trump at the airport, but he did not attend the rally. Photos from the rally showed chairs lined up in rows with no distancing. Some in attendance chose not to wear masks.

DeWine said Tuesday at one of his regular briefings on the coronavirus pandemic that maintaining a relationship with Trump is important.

“I justify it this way: I’m the governor of the state of Ohio. If the President of the United States comes here, I want to greet him,” DeWine said. “It’s important for the governor of Ohio to have a relationship with the President of the United States.”

And he continued to emphasize the importance of being safe in large groups.

“I’ve made it very, very clear that — whether you are at a rally, whether you are at a protest, whether you are at a football-watching party — gathering together without masks with a virus that has spread as deeply as it has into every crevice in the state of Ohio is a mistake,” DeWine said. “I would urge people to wear masks whatever you’re doing, particularly if you are close to someone else and you can’t do the social distancing.”

DeWine said he wanted people to view his time with Trump in the context of two political figures greeting each other.

“Please understand exactly what it was,” he said. “It was the governor of Ohio greeting the President of the United States And, I’ve also endorsed him. And I continue to endorse him.”

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