In the span of 72 hours on his Twitter feed, President Donald Trump went from cheering on Minnesotans protesting a stay-at-home executive order to praising a call he had with Gov. Tim Walz and promising to get the Democratic governor "all he needs, and fast" to respond to coronavirus.
The tweets mark the first time Trump has weighed in on Minnesota's coronavirus response and leadership, and his tone toward Walz is a departure from the more combative public relationship he's had with other governors in Michigan, New York and Washington.
"Received a very nice call from @GovTimWalz of Minnesota," Trump tweeted Monday. "We are working closely on getting him all he needs, and fast. Good things happening!"
The turnaround happened over the weekend, following a tweet from Trump Friday to "LIBERATE MINNESOTA," adopting the slogan of hundreds of protesters who gathered at Walz's St. Paul home to oppose an order to stay home unless absolutely necessary to limit the spread of the virus. After the tweet Friday, Walz said he called the president and vice president to ask what they thought he should be doing differently to safely open the state back up.
Trump returned that call Saturday night, Walz said, and they talked for 10 minutes about the state's stay-at-home order, challenges with testing capacity and struggles to get enough personal protective equipment. He said he left that conversation feeling that the state and federal response to the virus were aligned.
"I'm not interested in adjudicating why we don't have these things now, I'm just interested in how we get them. That's what I expressed to the president," Walz said. "He echoed that and expressed great desire to work with us."
In the past, Walz has signaled frustrations about the limited number of tests flowing to states, but he's been careful not to directly criticize the president by name. Governors like Gretchen Whitmer in Michigan, Jay Inslee in Washington and J.B. Pritzker in Illinois have been more openly critical of the president's response and have been the subject of blistering attacks from Trump in return. In some cases, Trump has suggested he won't return their calls because of the attacks.
Walz said Monday that he doesn't think that approach is useful. "Minnesotans and Americans, in general, they don't need to see us fight," he said.
The tweet is also the first sign that help for Minnesota could be on the way from the federal government, as the state competes with others for critical testing supplies, protective gear for healthcare workers and ventilators for hospitals.
The governor said he believes prominent business leaders from Minnesota put in calls to the president and said "talk to the governor, he's trying to get this right."
"The president said I'm hearing from friends in Minnesota that you're doing things that need to be done and you're listening to them," Walz said.
The call caps a tumultuous few weeks between governors and the administration, including a debate over who has authority to decide when to reopen shuttered businesses. Last week, Trump rolled out new guidelines to help states lift social-distancing measures. He told the governors: "You are going to call your own shots."