Today, President Trump is embarking on a trip to Arizona — some of his first travel outside the White House in weeks.
Accountable.US has closely tracked media appearances by the members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force and it has become clear that some states are getting more attention than others — and Arizona is in the center of the administration’s spotlight.
Trump Giving Arizona Special Attention
All states deserve attention from the President during this public health emergency. But while Arizona has only 8,600 of the nation’s nearly 1.2 million confirmed cases of the virus — making it 23rd overall — the Trump administration seems to be giving the Grand Canyon State special attention:
- Members of Trump’s team have regularly appeared for media interviews in Arizona since the pandemic began, even on local conservative radio stations. While the U.S. saw its deadliest day in COVID-19 deaths up to that point, CMS Administrator Seema Verma was calling into Phoenix’s “The Conservative Circus” talk radio show to express her frustration with the media. And while the U.S. officially became the country with the most COVID-19 infections, CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield told a local news station it was a “reasonable hypothesis” that COVID-19 would follow seasonal flu patterns.
- Besides a quick stop at Camp David this week, Trump’s trip to Arizona will be his first real travel outside the White House since he saw off the USNS Comfort in Virginia more than six weeks ago.
- Republican National Committee spokesman Rick Gorka touted the President’s visit as “the ultimate way to show respect and thank individuals for what they’re doing” during the crisis since Arizona’s businesses “have been a key contributor to producing the resources necessary to combat COVID.”
- Executives at Honeywell, the mask production facility Trump is visiting, have been known to be cozy with Trump, attending dinners at Trump’s golf courses and even advising “tech week” summits. The company also has operations in Rhode Island — a state with more confirmed COVID-19 cases than Arizona but also a governor who has disagreed with his administration’s response to the coronavirus crisis while Arizona’s is welcoming him with open arms.
- While in Arizona, Trump will get a chance to pander and get a photo op during a roundtable discussion in Arizona on supporting Native Americans after weeks of his administration denying Native communities necessary relief funds by excluding tribal businesses from the first round of PPP grants, attempting to cut tribes out from assistance altogether in the second round, and withholding $8 billion in funding specifically allocated for tribal governments' livelihoods for weeks.
It’s unclear why Trump and his allies are paying Arizona so much attention as other states continue to see more COVID-19 cases and greater infection rates. But we do know that Trump and his allies consider his response to the pandemic crucial to his reelection chances.