Trump says he will visit Arizona next week, maybe Ohio

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Wednesday that he plans to visit Arizona next week and potentially Ohio "very soon," marking one of the few times the president has left the White House in several weeks amid the coronavirus pandemic.

"I think I'm going to Arizona next week, and we look forward to that," Trump said during a roundtable event with business leaders at the White House.

Trump, who has rarely left the White House during the outbreak, said his visit to Arizona is "industry" related because it is "too soon for the big, for the big everybody get-together-and-stand-next-to-each-other crowds."

"And I'm going to, I hope, Ohio very soon," Trump added.

Arizona and Ohio are important states in the presidential election. Trump won Ohio by 8 percentage points in 2016 and Arizona by less than 4 points. Both states are on Democrats' target list.

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"I've been to the White House now for many months, and I'd like to get out, as much as I love this. This is the most beautiful house in the world, in my opinion, but I think there's just a great demand to get out and, you know, get our country going again," Trump said.

Trump's last campaign rally was March 2 in North Carolina, and he spent the following weekend at his Florida resort, where he met with the president of Brazil. Since then, his only public appearance outside the White House was on March 28, when he traveled to Norfolk, Virginia, to see off the USNS Comfort hospital ship as it made its way to New York.

White House aides began exploring ways to get Trump out of the White House as he grew increasingly restless and — as one former aide put it — "frustrated" after weeks of nationwide shutdowns. White House aides had floated the week of May 4 as a potential target for the president to start leaving Washington.

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Health officials have advised against nonessential travel and have encouraged Americans to stick to social distancing. But Trump said Wednesday that the White House's coronavirus social distancing guidelines, which are set to expire Thursday, will not be extended.

Vice President Mike Pence began to make trips outside Washington in recent weeks, including attending the Air Force Academy graduation ceremony and taking a tour of the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.