President Donald Trump took to Twitter early Friday to criticize capacity restrictions for his campaign event in Rochester later that day.
In a tweet, Trump blamed Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Elison and even Rep. Ilhan Omar for the restrictions at the Rochester International Airport, stating that they expected 25,000 people but are being limited to 250.
An updated news release for the event calls it a "MAGA peaceful protest," saying "only the first 250 people will be admitted" due to the "free speech-stifling dictates of Gov. Tim Walz and Attorney General Keith Ellison."
The release adds, "Without question, Minnesota Democrats had hoped that the president would simply cancel the event, but he will not allow partisan politicians to deprive people of their First Amendment rights to gather peacefully to hear directly from the president of the United States."
Minnesota state guidelines do limit gatherings to a maximum of 250 people due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but most of the public pushback against the president's plan for a large rally seems to have come from local, rather than state, officials.
The office of Attorney General Keith Ellison said it didn't block the event, saying in such situations it asks business owners for its "COVID preparedness plan" but that in this instance it didn't receive a response, and added that it has no authority to cancel events.
Rochester Mayor Kim Norton has been tweeting about the upcoming event, expressing concerns about it on Thursday, saying: "Campaign events are expected to adhere to state guidelines for gathering, masking and distancing. Keeping people safe from COVID is vital during this time of increased spread and it is paramount that we protect our healthcare workers and community."
On Friday morning, Norton continued to tweet about the visit from the president in response to the Trump campaign changing the event from a rally to a protest. The mayor stressed that with increasing COVID-19 cases, the city doesn't want to "unnecessarily spread the virus."
The City of Rochester's contract with the Republican National Committee for the event states the crowd size cannot exceed 250 people. It also requires social distancing for what's been called an invitation-only event. Plans to move the event to Dodge Center were scrapped.
Minnesota has seen record levels of COVID-19 in recent days, including a single-day record of 2,872 new cases reported Thursday.
Trump's event Friday evening comes after previous campaign rallies held by Trump in Duluth and Bemidji appeared to show a crowd of fans in excess of the 250 limit on crowd gathering sizes.