WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Wednesday that he plans to visit Arizona next week and potentially Ohio “very soon”, marking one of the few times the president has left the White House in several weeks amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“I think I’m going to Arizona next week, and we look forward to that,” Trump said during a roundtable event with business leaders at the White House.
Trump, has rarely left the White House amid the outbreak, said that the purpose of his visit to Arizona was “industry” related because it was “too soon for the big, for the big everybody get-together-and-stand-next-to-each other crowds.”
“And I’m going to, I hope, Ohio very soon,” Trump added.
Arizona and Ohio are important states in the 2020 presidential election. Trump won Ohio by eight percentage points in 2016 and Arizona by less than four points. Both states are on Democrats’ 2020 target list.
“I’ve been to the White House now for many months and I’d like to get out, as much as I love this. This is the most beautiful house in the world in my opinion, but I think there’s just a great demand to get out and, you know, get our country going again,” Trump said.
Trump’s last campaign rally was March 2 in North Carolina and spent the following weekend at his Florida resort where he met with the president of Brazil. Since then, his only public appearance outside the White House was on March 28 when he traveled to Norfolk, Va. to see off the USNS Comfort hospital ship as it made its way to New York.
White House aids began exploring ways to get Trump out of the White House as he grew increasingly restless and — as one former aid put it, “frustrated” — after weeks of nationwide shutdowns. White House aids had floated the week of May 4 as a potential target for the president to start leaving Washington.
Health officials have advised against nonessential travel and have encouraged Americans to stick to social distancing. But Trump said Wednesday that the White House’s existing coronavirus social distancing guidelines that are set to expire on Thursday at the end of April would not be extended.
Trump visited Norfolk, Va. at the end of March to see off the USNS Comfort, a Navy hospital ship that was headed to New York to provide extra space and support to medical workers. The president has not left the Washington area since then.