President Trump, as is customary at these events, introduced Republican Gov. Mike DeWine at his rally in Dayton, Ohio, on Monday—only to have the audience loudly boo the governor. DeWine had imposed a statewide masking order in July that has been wildly unpopular with the president’s base.
“We’re joined today by a real good friend of mine, somebody that’s been with me from the beginning and I’ve been with him from the beginning, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine,” the president began. “Where’s Mike?” he asked, to a spattering of applause. Trump looked around, seemingly unable to spot DeWine in the crowd—and then the boos began. “What’s that all about?” he quipped, looking a bit confused. “He’s opening up,” Trump said, trying to defend the governor. “He’s a good man.”
Whoa. Trump introduces Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine — and the crowd boos him!
“He’s opening up,” Trump says, to try to placate the audience. pic.twitter.com/3G9AN8897b
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) September 21, 2020
At the end of June, DeWine’s approval rating was sky-high, with 77% saying they approved of the governor’s response to the coronavirus pandemic (his support was higher among Democrats than Republicans, it should be noted). But that was before his statewide mask order and before he only reluctantly allowed schools to open—after ordering children as young as age four to wear masks at school. Both moves enraged an awful lot of people, including large swaths of Trump supporters, who believe the crisis has been overblown.
Lt. Gov. Jon Husted fared even worse when he tried to push Trump-themed masks on the crowd at the Dayton rally.
“You go into a grocery store and you have to wear one,” Husted began, before being interrupted by a chorus of boos. “Hang on, hang on, just listen up,” he ordered, to even louder boos. “Alright, alright, I get it,” he conceded. “But if someone tells you to take it off you can at least say that you’re trying to save the country by wearing one of President Trump’s masks, alright?” Husted persisted. (Who is telling people to take their masks off at stores?)
Rallygoers shouted “tyrant” and “not gonna work” as the lieutenant governor explained that masking could be “fun”—yes, that’s the word he used.
Lt. Governor Jon Husted (R-OH) tries to promote pro-Trump masks at today's rally … and is met with a huge chorus of boos. pic.twitter.com/1rR1bAwF89
— The Recount (@therecount) September 21, 2020
The campaign has thrown @LtGovHusted into the awkward role of promoting masks. Shouts of “Tyrant!” “Not gonna work!” & plenty of booing.
DeWine/Husted have pushed masks for months.
Husted: “you’ve made your point,” “hang on, I get it” and trying to pivot to pro-Trump rhetoric. pic.twitter.com/FVKKSnsHYP
— Geoff Redick (@GeoffWSYX6) September 21, 2020
While the number of COVID-19 tests and positive cases has increased in the state, the death count had been flat in Ohio before the mask mandate was instituted and has remained so since then, causing many to question why they’re being forced to mask up every time they leave the house—and why DeWine continues to chicken-little the pandemic.
JustTheNews reported last week that “a growing body of research suggests that a significant number of confirmed COVID-19 infections in the U.S. — perhaps as many as 9 out of every 10 — may not be infectious at all, with much of the country’s testing equipment possibly picking up mere fragments of the disease rather than full-blown infections.”
That hasn’t stopped DeWine’s fretting and hand-wringing. “We just can’t seem to get the number of new cases down,” he complained on Thursday. “Really, what you’re seeing is the spread of the virus over the state.”
The strange thing about this whole episode is how everyone seems to have been caught off-guard. Trump seemed unaware of how unpopular DeWine is with his base, and Husted, somehow, thought making light of the forced masking would be well received. Are they relying on that June poll declaring DeWine’s popularity in the state—a poll that only surveyed 1,139 self-identified registered voters and was conducted before DeWine’s draconian masking order went into effect?
If that’s the case, they’re missing the seething rage Trump supporters in Ohio have been directing at DeWine for months on end—rage that boiled over on Monday. It’s rare to see Trump being tone-deaf when it comes to his base, but it appears that’s exactly what happened at the Dayton rally. It’ll be interesting to see if Trump remains aligned with DeWine—and DeWine with Trump—in the final weeks of the presidential campaign.