Donald Trump’s campaign texted supporters Friday to invite them to win a dinner with the president – amid confusion over whether his high-profile Mar-a-Lago guest, Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro, has coronavirus.
The campaign sent a mass text alert saying: ‘This is Pres. Trump & I want to invite you to dinner! We’ll even take a photo together, friend. Just donate $35 in the next HOUR to WIN.’
The offer leads those targeted to the WinRed, the Republican fundraising platform, which is seen as critical to Trump’s re-election chances.
The last public dinner Trump attended was on Saturday night at Mar-a-Lago, with Bolsonaro.
Since then Bolsonaro’s press aide, Fabio Wajngarten – who posed with Trump for a picture – has tested positive, and Bolsonaro himself was first said by his son to have tested positive, then claimed himself that he was negative.
Bolsonaro and Trump spent three hours sitting side-by-side, with photographs showing Trump shaking Bolsonara’s hand with both of his.
Dinner offer: As confusion mounted over whether Donald Trump’s last high-profile dining companion had coronavirus, the president’s campaign offered dinner and a photograph
Then: President Donald Trump shaking hands with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro during a dinner at Mar-a-Lago on Saturday night; Bolsonaro’s condition remains unclear – his son said he was positive, then he said he was negative
Dinner with the president: The chance for a meal like this can be won for just $35, the Trump campaign said. Also at the table is Ivanka Trump who posed with the Australian govenrm
And now: Jair Bolsonaro on Friday where he wore a mask despite claiming not to have the virus
This could be you! Donald Trump and Fabio Wajngarten, the communications secretary for Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who has tested positive for coronavirus. He posed with Trump before his boss sat beside Trump for dinner on Saturday
On Thursday Bolsonaro was also photographed wearing a mask and Brazilian version of Air Force One was described as ‘contaminated.’
The Mar-a-Lago dinner was followed by a 50th birthday party for Kimberly Guilfoyle, Donald Trump Jr.’s girlfriend.
Guests at Mar-a-Lago that night who have also went into self-quarantine included Matt Gaetz, the Florida congressman who mocked the virus by wearing a mask on the floor of the House, and Lindsey Graham, the South Carolina Republican.
Despite the coronavirus crisis, Mar-a-Lago waited until Friday morning to cancel a 700-person gala hosted by Lara Trump, despite Florida’s governor Ron de Santis calling for any event with over 200 people to be canceled almost 24 hours earlier.
The dinner offer suggests the Trump campaign is hoping to rapidly resume the sort of events and offers which are seen as vital to his re-election.
Trump said Thursday that he is temporarily halting his trademark rallies, long been hismost potent political weapon: they energize the candidate, give him a powerful platform from which to attack his adversaries and allow his team to collect a treasure trove of voter data.
The two leading Democratic contenders, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, canceled their scheduled rallies earlier this week.
The president’s reelection team reluctantly followed suit, with Trump saying Thursday that multiple events that were in the works are being postponed.
‘We had about three of them in Nevada, actually. And we had four or five of them of them that we were thinking about,’ Trump said at the White House.
The president’s campaign has suspended all rallies, events and fundraisers for at least the next week, according to officials.
Campaign officials conferred Thursday to work out a plan for how to proceed while the virus makes traditional campaigning ill-advised, especially considering the higher risk it presents to older voters, many of whom support the president. Options under consideration include virtual town halls and conference calls for supporters.
The tentative Western itinerary included a rally and fundraisers in each state – including one in Colorado benefiting Republican Sen. Cory Gardner – as well as a previously announced stop at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s annual conference in Las Vegas, hosted by GOP megadonor Sheldon Adelson.
Post Mar-a-Lago quarantine: Congressman Matt Gaetz, who announced he was exposed to Coronavirus, departing Air Force One on Monday (left). He was at Mar-a-Lago on Saturday (right)
Party like you’re self-isolating afterwards: Lindsey Graham was a guest at Kimberly Guilfoyle’s Mar-a-Lago birthday party Saturday, where he met the Brazilian press aide with the virus – and how he is in quarantine
Trump said in the Oval Office on Thursday that he would hold the Gardner event ‘here,’ which would have been a violation of the Hatch Act preventing political activity at the White House.
A White House spokesman said later the president was not referring to a fundraiser but rather a roundtable on the Land and Water Conservation Fund, an official government event that had not previously been announced. Fundraising from such an event would be illegal.
Trump refused to rule out a rapid return to rallies, even though the government’s own health experts have advised against large gatherings of people.
The campaign had previously been eyeing, but had not yet announced, a rally in Tampa, Florida, on March 25. Trump said he would be ‘making a decision at the appropriate time’ on whether to hold that one, adding that he would ‘probably not do it because people would say that it’s better not to do. You know, we need a little separation until such time as this goes away. It’s going to go away.’
‘I’m not going to do it if I think it’s going to be negative at all,’ the president said. ‘I don’t want people dying.’
Trump claimed that more than 100,000 people had requested tickets for the Tampa rally, an impossibility since the campaign had not yet announced the event or made tickets available. A campaign spokesman declined to comment.
The campaign also canceled a ‘Catholics for Trump’ coalition event, which Trump planned to attend, that had been scheduled for Milwaukee next week.
Vice President Mike Pence also planned to stop all campaign activity for two weeks, a White House official said.
Before the dinner and a photograph offer, the last message to supporters was a note praising the president’s ‘aggressive and comprehensive’ effort to stop the virus spread.