President Donald Trump was reportedly planning to make a visit to the George Floyd memorial, prompting Gov. Tim Walz to implore the White House to change its mind.
The president is visiting Mankato Monday afternoon as part of a campaign blitz to coincide with the Democratic National Convention, but Gov. Walz suggested Monday that the Trump Campaign was also considering a visit to the site of George Floyd's death in May.
"I spent this weekend trying to tell the White House why it was a really bad idea to have President Trump go down and stand at the George Floyd memorial, and use it as a backdrop for his campaign, and ignite the pain and the anguish that we're feeling in Minnesota," Walz said during a DFL breakfast briefing Monday.
The president is instead speaking from the tarmac at MSP Airport before heading to Mankato.
Trump initially said that Floyd's death "doesn't get any worse than that" and expressed "deepest condolences" to his family, but has subsequently used the outpouring of anger that evolved into civil unrest and rioting as a key talking point in his re-election campaign, during which he has railed against cities run by Democrats.
In a statement ahead of Trump's visit, Walz criticized the president's "divisive rhetoric," and for the first time publicly criticized his response to the COVID-19 pandemic, saying he has failed to confront the health and economic impacts of the virus.
Walz has previously stopped short of criticizing the president by name at a time when Minnesota was still working to get the resources it needed to battle the virus.
"Rather than further divide us and distract from the real issues facing the country, we need a President who can unite our country and build a better future for our families. That President is Joe Biden." Walz said.
Trump has made Minnesota one of his top pickup priorities in this year's election, and the most recent poll by Emerson College showed him 3% down on Biden, within the margin of error.