President Trump headed to Mount Rushmore Friday evening to headline a Fourth of July event that has attracted controversy for bringing out crowds a
President Trump headed to Mount Rushmore Friday evening to headline a Fourth of July event that has attracted controversy for bringing out crowds amid a spike in coronavirus cases.
‘We’re going to Mount Rushmore. Mount Rushmore is in great shape and it’s going to be in great shape for centuries to come,’ the president told reporters on the tarmac at Joint Base Andrews before he left. ‘I’ll be making a speech there. I’ll be seeing a lot of people, a lot of different people and I think it will be a fantastic evening.’
Trump’s allusion to Mount Rushmore’s staying power was a preview of the speech he plans to deliver that will focus on condemning protesters who want to ‘tear down’ the nation’s history.
President Trump spoke to reporters directly before he boarded Air Force One to head to Mount Rushmore to deliver a speech and watch fireworks
President Trump gives a wave as he boards Air Force One to participate in his first of two Fourth of July events
Trump will make remarks at Mount Rushmore on Friday, July 3 – where the state says the crowd will be limited to 7,500 attendees
First lady Melania Trump (right) is accompanying President Trump (left) on his Friday night trip to Mount Rushmore where he’ll take on protesters who want to ‘tear down’ the nation’s history
President Trump also told reporters that he thought the U.S. economy was in good shape and there would be a ‘V shape’ recovery amid coronavirus cases spiking around the country
As the coronavirus crisis has continued to loom, the president has leaned into culture war themes, including the preservation of Confederate monuments, which have come under assault in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death and the subsequent ‘Black Lives Matter’ protests.
The White House has argued that if military bases and statues are renamed and removed, it will be a slippery slope to figures like George Washington, whose bust is on Mount Rushmore, being ‘erased.’ Washington was a slave-owner, as was Thomas Jefferson, who’s also on the South Dakota sculpture.
The Associated Press reported Friday that Trump plans to go after the ‘left wing mob and those practicing cancel culture,’ according to a person familiar with his remarks.
And he’ll condemn ‘totalitarian behavior that is completely alien to American life.’
On the tarmac, the president also touted the economic recovery, saying the econmy is ‘doing very well.’
‘I think we will have a V-shape,’ he added, meaning that the economy will come back as quickly as it fell.
While in his motorcade before departure, Trump tweeted out a number of Congressional endorsements, including for former White House doctor Ronny Jackson, who he originally endorsed in February, and also Rep. Jeff Van Drew, the New Jersey Democrat-turned-Republican who voted against the president’s impeachment.
Earlier Friday, the president played golf at his Virginia club.
Trump has tried to stick to culture war themes and the economy instead of talking about the rise in coronavirus cases, which topped 50,000 new cases a day earlier this week.
But public health experts have warned that his back-to-back Fourth of July events could only make things worse.
Dr. Anthony Fauci was asked about Trump’s trip to South Dakota on Wednesday, and while he didn’t criticize it directly, he suggested it wasn’t smart to go.
‘You should avoid whenever possible gathering in crowds where people cannot maintain physical distance,’ Fauci said.
‘Avoid crowds, wear a mask, keep physical distance,’ the doctor continued during an Instagram Q&A with former CNN White House Correspondent Jessica Yellin. ‘It doesn’t matter what the reason for the congregation, whether it’s a celebration here, the demonstration there. It doesn’t make any difference – wear a mask.’
Similarly, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said that she warned the Department of the Interior about having Saturday’s Fourth of July event in Washington, D.C.
The president and first lady will present a ‘Salute to America’ from the White House’s South Lawn and the Ellipse. There will be military flyovers and, later, the annual fireworks display.
Bowser said the event was against CDC guidelines and could cause a spike in COVID-19.
Earlier Friday, President Trump visited his Sterling, Virginia golf course for a game of golf. Here he’s captured returning to the White House
President Trump returns to the White House Friday after a trip to his Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Virginia
President Donald Trump is beginning Fourth of July weekend with a fireworks display at Mount Rushmore. Pictured: Fireworks over Mount Rushmore National Memorial, July 2004
Activists hold signs during a protest at Mount Rushmore National Monument in Keystone, South Dakota on July 3
About $600,000 is being spent on the display, including $350,000 for the actual fireworks and $3,500 on portable toilets. Pictured: Mike Harris, a retired over-the-road truck driver and registered Republican, shares his views about President Trump with motorists heading toward Mount Rushmore National Monument, July 2
Supporters of US President Donald Trump wave flags on a road in Keystone, South Dakota, on July 3
Health experts say the event could lead to a spike in cases, and put not only attendees but also workers at risk. Pictured: Visitors look at Mount Rushmore National Monument, July 2
The fireworks at Friday night’s event in South Dakota are problematic too because they could cause a fire.
Trump previously blew this warning off saying, ‘What can burn? It’s stone.’
But one former park official said that the event will ‘endanger public safety’ and it will be ‘extremely difficult’ to evacuate crowds in case of an emergency.
The crowd will be limited to 7,500 attendees.
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem also said that there would not be social distancing put in place at the event, but they would be giving out free masks.
The cost of the event has also raised eyebrows.
TMZ obtained documents showing the Friday night fireworks display will cost a little under $600,000.
The display itself cost $350,000, paid to a company called Pyro Spectaculars.
An environmenal consulting firmer named Ero Resources Corporation was paid $138,800 to work on the event. Security and screening will cost $33,000. Permitting and inspections will cost $30,000.
The National Fire Protection Association was paid $30,000 for consulting. Finally, $3,500 was spent on portable toilets.