Mayor Kabat doubles down on concerns about La Crosse Trump rally, event was canceled Thursday

Wisconsin's rise in cases has La Crosse and state officials asking Trump campaign to reconsider Saturday's visit to state

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) – Thursday morning, La Crosse Mayor Tim Kabat spoke on CNN expressing concern about President Donald Trump’s planned visit to La Crosse on Saturday. Then shortly after that, officials confirmed to News 8 Now that President Trump and Air Force One canceled its visit to La Crosse.

A visit from a sitting president is welcomed with open arms in any other year. The year 2020 is not the year for large crowds and campaign rallies according to La Crosse Mayor Tim Kabat.

“This really is about COVID-19,” Kabat said. “It’s not about partisan politics.”

As of Wednesday, the seven-day average was 48 cases in La Crosse county per day, down from 102 a week prior.

However, a Reuters analysis found Wisconsin leads month-to-month increase in cases surging 111 percent from August to September.

Reuters analysis

Kabat’s comments Thursday morning didn’t sit well with La Crosse County Republican leaders. Their Facebook page slammed Kabat’s request saying, “The Mayor is up for re-election in May. It’s time for a new Mayor. These actions are simply unacceptable.”

The Mayor of La Crosse is trying to stop President Trump from holding an outdoor rally on Saturday. The Mayor is up for re-election in May. Its time for a new Mayor. These actions are simply unacceptable.

Posted by La Crosse County Republican Party on Thursday, October 1, 2020

La Crosse Regional Airport director Ian Turner confirmed the cancelation to News 8 Now early Thursday afternoon. He said the president canceled the rally because the airport’s lease didn’t allow for such an event to be held there.

Wisconsin Senate District 32 candidate, Republican Dan Kapanke, said in a statement he tried to change the venue to Copeland Park, but Kabat said it was unlikely the city would grant a “special events permit” in order to make the event possible.

Dan Kapanke Statement

“Because we have not issued any permits for special events because of COVID-19,” Kabat said.

Kabat doubled down saying he doesn’t trust that a rally can be done safely.

“Witnessing rallies from around the country, where there is no social distancing and very little mask-wearing, that’s going on there, very concerned that we would see case numbers go back up,” Kabat said.

Kabat reinforced the fact that it doesn’t matter what party wants to host a rally, he says safety is his mission.

“It’s trying to keep the general health, safety, and welfare of our La Crosse residents at the priority, and that’s what we’re trying to do,” Kabat said.

La Crosse will continue to be of focus for the candidates as we move closer to November, but Kabat said his message will remain the same as long as La Crosse remains a hot spot for COVID-19 spread.

The Trump campaign’s website shows the event has been changed to Janesville. News 8 Now’s sister station WISC News 3 Now in Madison is reporting Rock County officials are also urging the Trump campaign to reconsider the rally. His Green Bay visit is still listed on the campaign website.