'We are aligned:' Walz, Trump clear the air after stay-home protest
ST. PAUL, Minn. (FOX 9) - Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said he and President Donald Trump cleared the air this weekend after Trump egged on a protest outside the governor's mansion Friday over Walz's stay-home order.
Walz, a first-term Democrat, said he talked with the Republican president for about 10 minutes on Saturday night. The day before, Trump had tweeted "liberate Minnesota" an hour before several hundred of his supporters gathered to mock Walz and call for Minesota to reopen.
"I left that conversation Saturday night that we are aligned," Walz said. “It made me a little more comfortable that we’re not going to get sidetracked into things that take us away from the main mission.”
The call came as a key Walz benchmark for reopening the economy -- testing for the virus -- went in the wrong direction last week.
The number of tests completed in Minnesota fell to a level below either of the previous two weeks, according to a FOX 9 analysis of state testing data.
In the week that ended Sunday, there were 8,295 tests. The previous week, there were 10,644. And two weeks earlier, there had been 9,120 tests.
Health officials said the start of last week was slowed by the Easter holiday, but the broader issue remains: Minnesota is doing less than a quarter of the 40,000 tests per week that Walz has said will be among the factors in reopening the state.
"Soon, I hope," Walz said, when asked when the state would hit 40,000 tests a week. "If we don’t, we’re going to be stuck in this. Other states have not figured this out as well yet."
The governor later said that he thought 40,000 tests could be achieved this week, though it would represent an increase of nearly five times the mark from a week ago.
Walz and other governors -- mostly Democrats and some Republicans -- have criticized the federal government for being slow to deliver testing supplies. Trump, meanwhile, has said the states have been given plenty.
The testing issue was among the things Walz and Trump spoke about, the governor said.
"Minnesotans should agree, we are not testing as much as we should," he said. "At this point in time, I would blame both federal and state for not getting that to you."
Walz said he thought some prominent business people, whom he did not name, had called Trump to explain the situation on the ground in Minnesota. That helped, Walz said.
Trump tweeted Monday morning that it was a "very nice call" and said he and Walz were "working closely."
Other Democratic governors have repeatedly sparred with Trump, who has at times downplayed the severity of the coronavirus pandemic. But Walz repeatedly avoided directly criticizing any of Trump's actions on the pandemic response Monday.
"I said, here in Minnesota, they really want him to succeed. They really really want our state to succeed," Walz said. "If we can work together, this is not an either-or proposition."
Walz said Trump asked to talk to the governor's two kids on Saturday night during their phone call. Walz said his daughter, Hope, spoke with the president.