Updated April 21, 2020 - 8:03 am
WASHINGTON — Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman on Monday told the Review-Journal she is “totally fine” with President Donald Trump saying he was fine with Gov. Steve Sisolak’s order to shutter nonessential businesses in Nevada because of the coronavirus.
Goodman’s reaction comes despite the fact that she has called the shutdown “total insanity.” But she said she thought the president was right not to take sides in her disagreement with the governor.
“I have the greatest respect for the plan he’s put in place,” Goodman said of White House Coronavirus Task Force’s guidelines, “Opening Up America Again,” released Thursday. Goodman added that she hoped Sisolak would act on the Trump plan.
The new guidelines lay out a formula for state and local officials to gauge when they can end business shutdowns, school closures and other social distancing rules.
At Sunday’s press briefing, the Review-Journal asked Trump what he thought of Sisolak’s decision to shut down Nevada through April and Goodman’s objections to the action. Trump noted that his Trump International Hotel was closed down as well, calling the order by the Democratic governor “a very severe step,” before adding, “I’m OK with it.”
Trump’s remarks Sunday came as a shift of sorts from Friday night Twitter posts that encouraged weekend protests against state shutdowns. “LIBERATE MICHIGAN,” “LIBERATE MINNESOTA” and “LIBERATE VIRGINIA.”
Asked if he meant to encourage his supporters to protest against guidelines endorsed by the White House, Trump said he supports flexibility — and not “unreasonable” restrictions, such as Michigan’s restrictions on selling paint.
Gov. Ralph Northam, D-Va., later told CNN he believed Trump was ginning up his base to distract from the lack of tests sought by the nation’s governors.
Republicans want a plan
Even as Trump gave a nod to the Sisolak shutdown, the Nevada Republican Party ran ads on the Review-Journal home page and in the Reno Gazette Journal with a headline, “Governor Sisolak Is Failing Nevadans.”
“Tell Gov. Sisolak, It’s Time for a plan to Re-Open Nevada,” read the ad.
The Nevada Democratic Party took issue with the ads, however.
“From Day 1, Gov. Sisolak has acted upon the advice of medical professionals to protect the health and safety of Nevadans and is working to ensure our economy recovers as quickly as possible when it is the right time to reopen businesses,” said Molly Forgey, the party’s spokeswoman. “The Nevada GOP, in contrast, is working to turn this pandemic into a partisan issue by taking out misleading full-page ads hitting the governor for doing the right thing.”
Asked about the apparent contradiction, Trump campaign Nevada spokesman Keith Schipper forwarded a statement by Nevada GOP Chairman Michael McDonald made when Sisolak announced the shutdown in March.
McDonald said, “As a lifelong Nevadan, I have experienced the best and toughest times firsthand. From 9/11 to 1 October, the character of this community has proven itself to be resilient time and again. It will be no different this time. We will come roaring back stronger than ever once the coronavirus outbreak ends and we will show what being Battle Born is all about.”
The Nevada GOP never said the Silver State shutdown was a bad idea, Schipper offered, “they just took a stand over the weekend that it’s time for a plan.”
Goodman wants plan, too
Goodman also called for Sisolak to present a plan to reopen Las Vegas.
As Goodman spoke, the number of coronavirus cases in Clark County hovered near 3,000, with 137 deaths.
Goodman, 81 and a two-time breast cancer survivor, recalled the scourge of polio when she was a girl growing up in Manhattan, and recalled having to govern in the face of Ebola and bird flu as well. Still, she said, “we didn’t shut down.”
“When are we going to have hope again?” Goodman asked as she said she thought of small business owners, unemployed workers and their children.
Also on Monday, Dr. Anthony Fauci warned on ABC that if areas open up too quickly, “you’re gonna set yourself back.”
Goodman has fond memories of Trump, whom she first met in 2000 during a visit to New York with her husband, Oscar, who was Las Vegas mayor at the time. And she recalled Trump’s visit to Las Vegas after the Oct. 1, 2017, shooting that left 58 people dead.
“Please say hi to the president, and thank them for coming out and helping us through that terrible time,” Goodman said. She said when she tilts her seat back in the mayor’s office at City Hall on Main Street downtown, she can see the Trump International tower “standing tall and gold.”
Sisolak’s office did not respond to the Review-Journal’s questions.
“But they closed a very big hotel that I have in Nevada, down in Las Vegas. It’s a very severe step he took. Im okay with it. Im okay with it. But, you know — I mean, you could call that one either way. I know the mayor is very upset with it. Some owners are very upset with it. Some of the developers out there very upset. Others, they say, “Hey, we got to get rid of it.” I can — I can see both sides of that.”
-President Donald Trump, Apr. 19