CLEVELAND, Ohio – Gov. Mike DeWine said Friday his administration has discussed a possible visit from President Donald Trump in the near future.
That confirms what the president said earlier this week about his hope to visit the state. No possible date or location was given by DeWine at his Friday coronavirus briefing.
“We’ve had some conversations with the White House about some potential visit sites, but I can’t talk any more about that,” DeWine said. “That’s got to come from the White House.”
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for more information, but earlier this week, Trump said he was eager to start traveling the country again.
“I think I am going to Arizona next week – and we look forward to that – and I am going to, I hope, Ohio very soon and we are going to start to move around and hopefully in the not too distant future we will have some massive rallies and people will be sitting next to each other,” Trump said at a roundtable with business executives. “I can’t imagine a rally where you have every fourth seat full, every six seats are empty for every one that you have full. That wouldn’t look too good.”
DeWine said Friday he didn’t know anything about a rally, though state guidelines limiting mass gatherings make a rally impractical.
Trump’s choice of Arizona and Ohio as potential destinations carries political overtones. Both are considered possible battleground states in the November election, though both lean Republican. In 2016, Trump won Ohio by 8 percentage points.
But his approval in the state has fallen and given a path for Democratic former Vice President Joe Biden to flip the state. A recent poll showed Biden with a slim lead over Trump by less than 1 percentage point.
Meanwhile, DeWine, also a Republican, has some of the highest approval ratings in the country of any governor. DeWine boasted a favorability rating of 75% in a poll from earlier this week, while Trump’s was negative with 43% favorable and 48% unfavorable.
Though DeWine has deviated drastically from Trump’s messaging over the course of the pandemic, the governor has never directly criticized the president and, at times, has gone out of his way to praise him.
A visit with DeWine, with all the media and expected praise from the governor that comes with it, could help rehabilitate Trump’s diminished standing with voters in a key state he needs for re-election.